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'First in the UK': Abortion facility to close following pro-life campaigning

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An abortion facility is to close as a "direct result" of pro-life campaigning. The development has been described by Britain's largest private abortion provider, BPAS, as a "first in the UK."

The notice, carried on a BPAS news website, reads: "An abortion clinic is to close as a direct result of protest activity – a first in the UK."

Mystery remains, however, as to the identity of the facility.

Despite posting the news, BPAS refuses to name the clinic. It denies that it is one of its own facilities, as does private provider Marie Stopes.

A recent Early Day Motion (EDM 162), sponsored by Dianne Abbott MP, cites news of the closure and also suggests that other clinics have been prevented from opening as a result of "local fears about anti-abortion activity." 

'Time for transparency'

Pro-life campaigners say that, in the interests of transparency, the MP should now disclose the identity of the facility.

Andy Stephenson, of pro-life public education group Abort67, said: "We have been subject to a relentless campaign of false accusations about our behaviour. If the closure of an abortion facility is now being used as part of a parliamentary effort to introduce unnecessary restrictions on freedom of expression, then there needs to be transparency. Dianne Abbott should disclose full details of the closure."

Both Dianne Abbott and Green MP Caroline Lucas have used EDMs to call for the creation of "buffer zones" around abortion facilities, claiming that the behaviour of pro-life campaigners is "intimidating"

'The power of telling the truth'

Abort67 has previously issued strong rebuttals to such accusations, setting the record straight about its activities.

Andy Stephenson added: "Those who want to protect the interests of the abortion industry are resorting to scare tactics and false accusation. We do not intimidate or threaten, we just allow people to see the reality of abortion.

"No evidence has been produced to support these spurious allegations. BPAS has cameras at its clinics. If it is aware of activity that it thinks the police are missing, then surely it has a duty to submit that video material and lodge a formal complaint, rather than making vague assertions.

"The police are fully aware of our work. They are not calling for any further powers.

"We invite any politicians with concerns to come and visit one of our public education campaigns and to see what we are doing, rather than rely on hearsay.

"Abortion protests itself when people are allowed to see what it really involves. If an abortion clinic is to close as a result of our activities, then it simply shows the power of telling the truth about abortion.

"The abortion industry is now so rattled by us exposing the truth about abortion that it is calling for draconian restrictions on freedom of expression to protect its vested interests. It seems that when it comes to abortion, the truth is bad for business."

BPAS' Charter for Choice website says: "The Home Office continues to insist that police [already] have the powers to deal with the protesters."

'Charges dismissed'

In 2012, a judge dismissed all charges against Andy Stephenson and Kathryn Attwood of Abort67.

The pair, who had been charged in connection with Abort67's public education project outside a BPAS facility in Brighton, were supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

"The activities of Abort67 are carefully watched by the police. If Abort67 volunteers were doing anything illegal, they would be stopped. A court has upheld Andy's freedom to tell the truth about abortion. They should not be shut down just because their presence doesn't suit the abortion industry."

Last month, a Belfast court overturned the conviction of a pro-life campaigner for harassment. Bernadette Smyth, founder of the Precious Life group, led demonstrations outside Northern Ireland's first private abortion facility.

Related News:
Abortion lobby delivers petition to cover up truth about abortion    
Abort67 responds to false allegations  
Analysis of Andy Stephenson and Kathryn Attwood freedom of expression case  
Victory for pro-life campaigner in harassment battle

Related Links:
Pro-life protesters force closure of abortion clinic in UK for first time (IB Times)
Abortion protesters force clinic to close (Times £)


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