A controversial protest group is planning to display large graphic images of dead foetuses near an abortion clinic in Hastings on Friday (February 10).
Abort67, a group which calls for the abolition of abortions in the UK, also plans to ‘briefly’ live stream part of what it is calling a ‘public education project’ near to the Station Plaza Health Centre. The group says it will not be streaming near the clinic entrance.
But the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s leading abortion care service which runs a clinic at the health centre, called the decision to stream footage on Facebook ‘deeply disturbing’.
Abigail Fitzgibbon, head of advocacy and campaigns at the BPAS, said: “Anti-abortion activists are entitled to their beliefs but should not be entitled to harass and intimidate women at the difficult time in their lives.
“As Abort67 will be aware their proposed location is extremely close to the clinic and where women will be walking to access the medical centre. Their intent to live stream from the vicinity of the clinic is deeply disturbing and we hope the police will prevent this activity.
“Some women visiting BPAS are vulnerable and would be terrified by the prospect of being caught on camera.”
The protest is expected to take place opposite Sainsbury’s Local in Devonshire Place - a stones throw from the clinic.
On the Abort67 Facebook page, the group has said it would be ‘briefly’ live streaming from around midday.
This new, ‘non-violent’ local group is led by Hastings resident Susie Molina. She said: “The aim of this and all future displays, is to expose the truth of abortion and engage the public in peaceful discussion in order to change public opinion around an issue that is largely clouded in misinformation and ignorance.”
Susie got involved with Abort67, a project of Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform UK (CBR-UK), after attending the group’s conference last year.
She claims BPAS has previously accused Abort67 of harassment and intimidation “without a shred of evidence”.
Susie added: “The police closely monitor what we are doing at our own invitation and if they saw the alleged behaviour occurring, they would not hesitate to prosecute us.”
Hastings MP and Home Secretary Amber Rudd has also been made aware of the protest.
A Home Office spokesperson told the Observer: “Peaceful protest is a vital part of a democratic society but protesters’ rights need to be balanced with the rights of others to go about their business without fear of intimidation.”
The Home Office added that police have the powers to set conditions on a demonstration, including its location, how long it lasts and how many people are involved, and can disperse people if they are harassing people and causing distress.
The spokesperson said that decisions on how to manage demonstrations are an operational matter for the police but said the Home Office is ‘very clear’ that all suspected criminal behaviour should be investigated. Under the Public Order Act 1986 it is an offence to display words or images that may intentionally cause harassment, alarm, or offence.
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