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Richmond Council taken to High Court over abortion clinic prayer vigil ban

by Eno Adeogun

A Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) around the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) centre on Rosslyn Road on 1st April 2019 made it a criminal offence for pro-life groups to gather outside. 

Conversations about abortion or other options, counselling, leaflets outlining alternatives to abortion and "any act of approval or disapproval" have also been outlawed.

  

The legal challenge has been brought by Justyna Pasek, who has for over five years tried to offer women visiting the clinic alternatives to abortion. 

This comes as the ongoing legal challenge to a similar order introduced last year in Ealing is set to be heard by the Court of Appeal on 16th July. 

be here for me

A crowdfunding appeal to cover the costs of Pasek's legal challenge rose over £10,000 in one week and crowdfunding for the case in Ealing has raised over £50,000.​ 

The Home Secretary rejected nationwide "buffer zones" last September highlighting that "the majority of activities are more passive in nature". 

Pasek said in a statement: "I understand what is at stake in Richmond because I have stood outside that abortion clinic many times and offered women alternatives to abortion. 

"I have met hundreds of women who just needed a little help, at the right time and in the right place, in order to keep the child that they desperately wanted. 

"The women in these situations are often very scared and vulnerable. Many of these women are being coerced into abortion and others just want the choice of exploring other options. 

"Volunteers can provide financial help, counselling, help with accommodation and baby clothes. This practical and emotional support is often indispensable and life-changing to these women and many women credit this with saving their child's life. 

"Because of the censorship zone in Richmond, I can no longer offer help where women need me the most."

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