The petition against the ongoing anti-abortion protest outside the BPAS clinic in East Twickenham gained nearly 400 local signatures and was submitted to Richmond Council last November. It was well received, across all parties, and the Council committed to do all it could within its powers to limit the impact of the protests on the lives of local residents. The resident group that runs Reclaim Rosslyn Road has also taken the case to local MP, Vince Cable. He has since written to the Home Secretary because local council and police powers are limited and cannot prevent the current disruption.
In consequence, a number of national initiatives and events have been launched aimed at preventing the UK heading down the same road as the USA, where protesters have resorted to violence in pursuit of their aim to close all birth control clinics. These all focus on the case for establishing exclusion zones around all clinics – this would protect the right to free speech but keep protestors away from clinic entrances and thus help reduce the problems caused by the current protests. The main initiatives are:
- A national campaign called Back-Off, established by BPAS
- A national on-line petition supporting the creation of a exclusionary zone outside of abortion clinics
- An inspirational ad hoc viral video of a woman castigating pro-life demonstrators outside an abortion clinic in Blackfriars, London
- Articles in the national press, such as that by shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper
- An Early Day Motion in parliament, EDM 612, proposed by Caroline Lucas of the Green Party and signed by, among others, Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond, supporting the BPAS campaign asking for exclusion zones around the clinics (Dr Cable is not allowed to sign this as a cabinet minister).
The Reclaim Rosslyn Road group have committed themselves to helping the national campaign and have recently sent a newsletter to its supporters detailing what is happening. If you would like more information, this can be found at:
— from resident, Philip Jeffery – 26 January 2015