Clare Bailey MLA calls for buffer zones at family planning services

Wednesday March 11 2018

Green Party MLA Clare Bailey welcomed the announcement that Ealing has become the first UK council to vote to create a buffer zone around the Marie Stopes clinics to protect women from anti-abortion protesters.

The Council unanimously voted in favour of implementing a public spaces protection order (PSPO) around the clinic, saying it wished to protect women from distress and intimidation at the clinic.

Welcoming the landmark move, Clare Bailey said the same approach should be taken across all parts of the UK and Northern Ireland to protect the tens of thousands of women every year who are forced to run a gauntlet of harassment as they seek to access family planning services.

“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.

“I believe in free speech and the right to protest, but this is not what these people are doing.

“They are engaged in a concerted campaign of harassment, intimidation and the public shaming of women.

“I have seen first-hand how this has frightened women who are lawfully seeking family planning services. They have been 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.

“This is being taken very seriously in the UK and it is time Northern Ireland did the same,” the South Belfast MLA said.