The Government has been holding a review (the Abortion Clinic Protest Review) into the right to hold peaceful protests or prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. The review, which could lead to the establishment of ‘buffer zones’ which prohibit protests or vigils near abortion clinics, concludes on 19 February.
Bishop John Sherrington, the Bishop with responsibility for the Day for Life responded to the review saying:
“There are members of the public, often associated with churches, who gather peacefully to pray outside abortion clinics and witness to the good of human life in a dignified way. They do so because of their fundamental belief in the protection of unborn life and the good of the mother.
“The offering of leaflets is part of helping to inform women who might not have had impartial information before. There are also those who offer practical alternatives and assistance if a woman wants to make a different choice.
“In a democratic society the freedom to protest and express one’s opinion is always to be considered in relation to the common good. It should not be necessary to limit the freedom of individuals or groups to express opinions except when they could cause grave harm to others or a threat to public order. There are already proportionate means in current legislation to deal with these situations.
“A blanket introduction of ‘buffer zones’ carries with it the danger of both denying freedom of expression and fostering intolerance towards legitimate opinions which promote the common good.”