Ealing Council has made it a criminal offence to offer help to women outside of the Marie Stopes Abortion Centre on Mattock Lane.
The council has put in place a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) that prevents “engaging in any act of approval/disapproval” by “any means” – specifically including prayer and counselling.I do not have the financial resources to challenge the PSPO in the Court of Appeal, and without your support, I can’t bring an appeal.
When I discovered I was pregnant in 2011, I felt as though I had no choice but to have an abortion. I was devastated because I could never have imagined having an abortion, but I couldn’t find the support I needed to continue my pregnancy. I felt abandoned and alone. However my story had a happy ending because I was offered help and support as I was entering an abortion centre by a local pro-life vigil. I was given another choice which meant that I could have my beautiful daughter. Since then I have regularly attended vigils in London to offer the same help and support to other women in need, as many women who go to an abortion centre do not want an abortion.
However two years ago, a group of activists called Sister Supporter appeared in Ealing to protest the pro-life vigil outside of the abortion centre on Mattock Lane. They said members of the vigil were “harassing” and “intimidating” women by offering them alternatives to abortion, despite over 20 years of the vigil operating peacefully without a single arrest. After causing significant disruption to the vigil, Sister Supporter then petitioned the council to remove all pro-life groups from the area.
Despite accepting that vulnerable women want and need the help of pro-life vigils, Ealing council responded by bringing in an extremely oppressive PSPO that made it a criminal offence to pray or offer support outside of the abortion centre on Mattock Lane. To the delight of Sister Supporter, they intentionally banned charitable activity that is desperately needed by some of the most vulnerable women in our society. In reality, they have introduced a censorship zone that completely undermines free speech.Hundreds of women have received practical help and support outside abortion centres across the UK. I need your help to ensure that this vital outreach can continue.
I know just how important the availability of this help is because without it, I wouldn’t have my beautiful daughter with me today. I was offered help outside of an abortion centre when I didn’t have any alternatives. Without this help, my only option was an abortion, and I know many others face the same situation. It has been a great delight to be part of a loving and compassionate group of citizens who are there to offer real, practical help to mothers who want to keep their babies.
I cannot put into words the joy, the beauty and the love that my daughter has brought in to my life. She simply would not be with us today if vigils had been criminalised, and I refuse to accept that other women should be denied the opportunity to receive help where they want to keep their child.I brought a challenge to the High Court
to ensure that Ealing would not be allowed to violate multiple human rights through this PSPO, particularly the right to free speech, the right to pray, the right to receive information and the right to assemble. To my absolute dismay, even though the High Court accepted that these rights had been infringed, it decided to uphold the PSPO and ordered costs against me.
This decision has huge implications for freedom of expression in our society. BPAS – the largest abortion provider in the country – has been campaigning to introduce Censorship Zones for years and would like to see them imposed across the country. Ealing was the first council ever to use a PSPO to criminalise activities such as prayer and offers of support, and other councils have been waiting to see what the outcome is there before introducing PSPOs of their own. The Home Office has also said that it is considering national legislation that would ban pro-life vigils from outside of abortion centres, and it has been watching the developments in Ealing closely.
I cannot imagine a society where a simple offer of help to a woman who might want to keep her child is seen as a criminal offence.I have done what I can. Now, I need your help.
Please give generously to help me cover the legal costs that I have already incurred in bringing the challenge against Ealing, and all future legal costs and expenses. Without your strong financial support, an appeal will simply not be possible.
I want to emphasise that none of the funds received will be used for my own financial benefit. If there are any remaining funds, they will be used to provide practical support to women who do want to continue with their pregnancies and campaign efforts to ensure that help can be offered outside abortion centres across the country.