FSRH Position Statement on Buffer Zones around Abortion Clinics
The ongoing intimidation and harassment of patients and staff outside facilities providing abortion care across the UK is cause for serious concern.
This harassment takes many forms and causes great distress. It also makes it difficult, and demoralising, for healthcare professionals to deliver essential, legal healthcare.
Even quiet protest can be intimidating, and the distribution of erroneous, false information can be dangerous for patients’ health and safety. In some cases, protests cause such distress that treatment is deferred.
Privacy must be protected as much as possible when people access abortion services and all staff working to provide these services should have the right to work without judgement, intimidation or fear. Current legal protection fails to do this.
The only way to ensure patients are able to access healthcare free of harassment and intimidation is the legal implementation of buffer zones around abortion clinics across the UK.
Introducing national legislation would guarantee that the approach to counteracting these protests is consistent and effective. We call on the Home Office and devolved Governments to bring forward national legislation to protect the safety of people accessing abortion services and healthcare professionals providing care.
Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) can be useful to protect patients and staff, but they have not been designed for this purpose and depend on local councils’ willingness to apply them. They are also timebound, expensive to implement and produce a postcode lottery where some areas benefit from PSPOs and many others do not.
FSRH believes everyone should be able to access abortion services free of intimidation and harassment and for all healthcare workers to be able to access their place of work free of judgement or fear.