BBC: Should Pro-Life Campaigners Even Be Allowed Right of Protest?

Abortion BBC

“Should anti-abortion campaigners be banned from standing outside abortion centres and urging women to change their mind?” asks BBC News in a five-minute report.

Visiting an abortion clinic in London, outside which pro-life activists have “campaigned for years”, Leila Nathoo asks “but should they be allowed to?”, in a report suggesting that “the right to freedom of expression has crossed over into intimidation.”

The short film comes as members of Britain’s parliament call for so-called “buffer zones” around abortion clinics, with Amber Rudd the Home Secretary calling for an assessment of protests in preparation for a ban of protests.

In the film, Nathoo meets with Kitty, a woman who had an abortion last year in Manchester and was “angered” by leaflets detailing alternatives to termination.

“They’d justify their behaviour by saying ‘we’re not breaking any laws, we’re not shouting, we’re not upsetting people’, but they are,” she said.

“I didn’t just wake up and say ‘I want an abortion this morning’. I had to think about it and think about my future, which way I wanted it to go. So for them to think that handing me a leaflet could change my mind … it’s a bit insulting. It just angers me.

“But they do it peacefully, so I think people think that’s OK,” Kitty said.

Clare McCullough from the Good Counsel Network, which provides leaflets which list some of the support available for new mothers including babysitting, financial help and housing, told the BBC she is strongly opposed to laws being considered by the UK government to restrict pro-life activity near abortion centres.

Earlier this month, Southwark News reported that the local council is “one step closer” to introducing a ‘buffer zone’ outside an abortion clinic to prevent campaigners from speaking to women.

McCulloch said: “It’s very important for us to be on the doorstep of the clinic so that women who have been most desperate and felt they had no alternative, and immediately booked an abortion when they find out they’re pregnant do have an alternative.”

“So it wouldn’t satisfy you to be within a hundred metres of a clinic? And be able to hold a vigil and to say prayers there?” Nathoo asks.

“No, I think that it would be a loss to the woman who needs the help if we were further away. Some women wouldn’t notice us,” the pro-life campaigner replied.

In her report, the BBC journalist approaches a trio of protesters standing near the clinic with signs, who she proceeds to accuse of “harassing women”.

“How can it be harassment?” one of the men asks, adding: “Traditionally, harassment is when you really intimidate somebody and press them, you know, and call them names.”

“A lot of people would argue that the presence of a line of people outside a clinic is intimidating”, contended Nathoo.

“This is a new thing”, the protester countered. “This is a new interpretation of the word harassment. It’s not in the dictionary.”

In its next section, the BBC employs a new interpretation of another concept — that of “protection” — contending that, in considering banning people from airing pro-life views near abortion providers, local councils and the UK government are “looking at ways to protect women”.

“What’s become clear today is that this is not about whether abortion is right or wrong, it’s not about whether people shouldn’t be able to protest and express their views,” the report concludes, with Nathoo alleging that the issue is about whether pro-life activity near clinics “crosses a line into harassment.”


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