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High Court upholds ban on abortion clinic protests

Anti-abortion activists have lost their legal challenge against a ban on protesting outside a London abortion clinic, it was announced today. Humanists UK has welcomed the outcome.

The legal challenge, heard at the High Court, was launched in response to the enforcement by Ealing Council of a buffer zone around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic. The buffer zone provides an area of 100m around the clinic where any protests are forbidden from taking place in order to allow women accessing the clinic freedom from harassment. Ealing Council imposed the ban on protests after hearing women’s complaints of intimidation by anti-choice activists.

Mr Justice Turner found that the ban’s interfere with the activists’ rights to freedom of assembly was perfectly justified under the Human Rights Act. He concluded that there was enough evidence to demonstrate that anti-choice protests are invasive to women’s privacy at a time of particular vulnerability and so a ban on such protests is reasonable.

Humanists UK is a founding supporter of the Back Off campaign, which aims to change the law to allow buffer zones around abortion clinics across the country.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘We are very encouraged by today’s judgment. Abortion is a matter of personal choice and should be seen as a standard medical procedure like any other. Alongside recent international developments, such as Ireland’s referendum result which decisively called for liberalisation of abortion laws there, the ruling shows a positive trend in trusting women to make their own decisions regarding their bodies.’


For more information or comment on this, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on or 0781 55 89 636.

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaigns around 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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