Manchester city council agreed to introduce a Safe Access Zone around our clinic in Fallowfield. Today’s decision is a huge victory for the women of Manchester who will finally be able to access the healthcare to which they are legally entitled free from intimidation and harassment.
Richard Bentley, Managing Director of Marie Stopes UK said:
"Today’s decision is a huge victory for the women of Manchester who will finally be able to access the healthcare to which they are legally entitled free from intimidation and harassment.
“Our team in Manchester do everything they can to create a welcoming haven where women feel supported in their choices, and during the pandemic have been working around the clock to keep services open for everyone who needs them. It is disgraceful that they have been forced to witness this undermined by the cruel tactics of the radical anti-choice groups standing outside. We are incredibly grateful to Manchester Council for recognising the emotional distress that these groups create and for taking proportionate action to protect the privacy and dignity of women accessing our clinic.
“However, while this decision will protect the wellbeing of everyone coming to our Manchester centre, the vast majority of abortion clinics throughout England and Wales remain defenceless. The fact is whether it’s one woman being harassed or 1,000, it’s still too many. It is time for the UK government to end the postcode lottery of harassment and legislate for Safe Access Zones outside all registered abortion care providers in the UK.”
What is a Safe Access Zone?
A Safe Access Zone, also commonly called a Buffer Zone, is an area surrounding the abortion provider premises where specific gatherings and activities that are known to have a detrimental effect on clinic visitors would be prohibited. The official zone is a designated distance around the premises to protect service user’s privacy and confidentiality.
The evidence shows that designated Safe Access Zones are the best way to protect abortion care service users by prohibiting specific activities that cause our clients and team members to feel intimidated, distressed, harassed, afraid and alarmed.
The introduction of Safe Access Zones is based on the principle that the right of assembly and free speech of individuals and groups can be exercised somewhere that does not discriminate against women and pregnant people, or infringe their right to privacy and family life.
Local Buffer Zones are great, but not enough: here's why
The risk of only enacting Safe Access Zones around some providers is that harassing activities will become focused on areas without this protection. Relying on local councils alone creates a postcode lottery.
This is why we need National Safe Access Zones around ALL premises which are registered to provide #AbortionCare services with the Department of Health and Social Care, and we call on the UK Government to protect access to legal healthcare and prevent the targeted harassment of women and pregnant people.
You can read our official Position Paper on the need for National Safe Access zone on our Advocacy and Positions page.