Clare Bailey MLA

Clare Bailey calls for buffer zones at family planning clinics

Thursday November 16 2017

A woman harassed at a family planning clinic in Belfast was forced to run into city centre traffic to escape anti-choice protesters, according to Green Party MLA Clare Bailey.

The South Belfast MLA is calling for Northern Ireland to create buffer zones round family planning clinics.

The Green Party MLA yesterday met with MPs and activists in the House of Commons to discuss campaigns to set up buffer zones around family planning clinics.

“In January 2017, I launched my own consultation on safe access to healthcare services due to the harassment and intimidation of women trying to access both the Marie Stopes clinic and also the Family Planning Association,” she said.

“As an activist and escort for the Marie Stopes clinic, I have witnessed first-hand the intimidation and harassment of women trying to access healthcare.

“Women are so frightened by the actions of these protestors. They are regularly filmed, reported to police or received threats to have their images uploaded to social media.  I have been assaulted, spat on, splashed with holy water and even had a client run into oncoming traffic to escape these people.

“Don’t get me wrong, I believe in free speech and the right to protest. But this is not what these people are doing – this is a concerted campaign of harassment and intimidation against women on the streets of Belfast.

“This is being taken very seriously in the UK and it is time Northern Ireland did the same.”

Earlier in the week the Green Party MLA met with Dr Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, who is working to promote the issue at a national level.

Last month, Ealing Council passed a landmark decision to find ways to ban anti-choice campaigners from harassing women attending an abortion clinic. The council voted to take action to prevent campaigners approaching people as they enter a Marie Stopes clinic in the area.

This week, in response to recent anti-abortion protest activity outside the St. Mary’s Hospital in Milton, councillors in Portsmouth passed a motion to commit to ‘fully exploring every available option’ to create a buffer zone around the site.

Other organisations in attendance at the meeting included BPAS, Voice for Choice, Alliance for Choice and Sister Supporter.



Linda Stewart



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