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Anti-abortion activists launch legal challenge against council over public spaces protection order

The London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames faces a legal challenge from anti-abortion activists over a public spaces protection order (PSPO) it has imposed to restrain their protests.

Justyna Pasek has applied to the High Court for the Be Here For Me group, which has conducted protests outside an abortion clinic at Rosslyn Road in the borough.

The group said the PSPO made it an offence to hold conversations about abortion or alternative options, conduct counselling or prayer or offer leaflets near the clinic.

It claimed the council had set aside £100,000 to fight the case.

Ms Pasek said: “The women I helped often told me they could not get the help they need in the abortion clinic, only abortion. Outside the clinic, however, the kind of help that is offered can really transform the situations these women find themselves in.”

She added: “Because of the censorship zone in Richmond, I can no longer offer help where women need me the most. I cannot stand back and allow Richmond Council to introduce a draconian censorship zone that prevents real choice for women. I will challenge the PSPO in Richmond for mothers who need help in the future, at the place they need it most.”

A council spokesperson said: “There is an ongoing appeal over the decision to implement a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) around the BPAS Clinic in Rosslyn Road.

“We maintain that the PSPO was validly implemented and that the legal challenge is misconceived. Rosslyn Road and the surrounding environs have benefitted from the PSPO being in place.”

The Court of Appeal is due to hear a challenge to a similar order imposed by the London Borough of Ealing.

Mark Smulian

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