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UK News

European court asked to rule on London’s ‘prayer ban’

by Premier Journalist

A pro-life campaigner is set to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights after being prohibited from providing women with support outside an abortion clinic.

Alina Dulgheriu argues that the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) instituted by Ealing Council outside a Marie Stopes clinic - which criminalises speech, assembly, charitable support and prayer, including silent prayer - violates her most fundamental rights. 

In August 2019, a Court of Appeal found that Alina’s rights to assembly, religion, thought, expression and reception of information were impeded by the council's order. Despite this, the Court of Appeal went on to qualify that such violations were justified because of the right of Marie Stopes attendees not to be seen in public space near the facility. 

When Dulgheriu applied to have her case heard in the Supreme Court, she was summarily rejected. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) represents her final mode of appeal, and is only possible due to hundreds of generous supporters. So far, some £70,000 has been raised to fund her legal battle. The ECHR currently has jurisdiction over roughly 800 million citizens across Europe, including the UK.  

Dulgheriu said: “My little girl is here today because of the real practical and emotional support that I was given by a group outside a Marie Stopes centre, and I am going to appeal this decision to ensure that women do not have this vital support option removed.

"I will continue to stand up for the women whose voices have been sidelined throughout this process and for women who need life-saving support today but cannot get it. 

"Ealing Council could have taken action in a way that would have protected women and safeguarded the essential help offered at the gate. Instead, they criminalised charity and attempted to remove dedicated and caring individuals from public space without justification.

"It is very clear that many are opposed to Ealing’s ban on peaceful and charitable activity, and like me, they want to see support available to vulnerable women where it is most needed. 

"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 refuse to accept that women should be denied the opportunity to receive help where they want to keep their child.”

Dulgheriu is working with a group called "Be Here For Me," which has billed itself as representing "mothers against the ban on help outside abortion clinics."  

Be Here For Me spokeswoman Elizabeth Howard said:

“Eight years ago, Alina Dulgheriu found herself jobless, homeless and alone after an unplanned pregnancy. She’d been fired from her job as a live-in nanny and abandoned by her boyfriend. 

"She went to Marie Stopes to get advice on her options, but all they could offer her was an abortion. She didn’t want that but didn’t know where to turn.

"Her life was changed when she met a pro-life volunteer at the gates of the abortion centre who told her that she did have options, that there was help available, and that she could keep her baby if she wanted.

"She accepted the offer of help and her daughter Sarah was born. She is now seven years old, a beautiful, lively and beloved child.

"Ealing Council has banned pro-lifers from helping women in similar situations. Alina has challenged their decision in court, but three times the courts have ignored her story. In five years of the pro-life vigil’s work in Ealing, more than 500 women accepted an offer of help and chose to keep their baby rather than have an abortion. These women have tried again and again to have their voices heard, but they are ignored.”

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