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Success! Government announces review into buffer zones around abortion clinics

Two and a half years ago, Humanists UK’s then Director of Public Affairs and Policy Pavan Dhaliwal was amongst those who delivered Back Off’s petition to No 10 Downing Street.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has today announced a review into the behaviour of anti-choice campaigners outside English and Welsh abortion clinics, and whether further police and civil powers are needed to prevent the harassment and intimidation that has been occurring. This could potentially include buffer zones. The announcement represents a serious victory for the Back Off campaign, which has been working for just such a change. Humanists UK, a founder member of Back Off, has welcomed the news.

The Home Office review ‘will gather evidence from police forces, healthcare providers and local authorities to understand the scale and nature of these protests, before considering what further action the government can take to protect those using or working in abortion clinics. This could include bolstering existing or creating new police and civil powers.’

Amber Rudd announced the review saying ‘While everyone has a right to peaceful protest, it is completely unacceptable that anyone should feel harassed or intimidated simply for exercising their legal right to healthcare advice and treatment. The decision to have an abortion is already an incredibly personal one, without women being further pressured by aggressive protesters.’

The announcement follows two councils – Ealing and Portsmouth – voting in favour of consulting on public spaces protection orders outside local abortion clinics, which are a form of buffer zone but are highly cumbersome to introduce. In addition, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton Rupa Huq has been pushing a private members’ bill on buffer zones in the House of Commons. She has today welcomed the news.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘We’re delighted that, almost three years to the day after the Back Off campaign launched, the Government has now announced a review into intimidation and harassment outside abortion clinics. We will be working to ensure that this review proceeds as quickly as possible, and that the result is new powers that mean no woman is harassed when seeking to exercise healthcare services.’


For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at or 020 7324 3072.

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Read more about Humanists UK’s campaigns work on abortion:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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