A pro-life group in yet another British jurisdiction is fighting back against a local “buffer zone” ordinance that prohibits prayer and gathering anywhere near abortion facilities.
As Live Action News reported, the Council of Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole voted in October to enact a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) around the abortion facility in Bournemouth. The PSPO created a buffer zone encompassing a wide swath stretching nearly six streets. In addition to preventing any sidewalk counseling from those in the pro-life movement, it also prohibited any sign of religious activity, including prayer, reading scripture, or making the sign of the cross.
BREAKING: Legal action has been launched against Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council over a ‘buffer zone’ that censors free speech and makes prayer illegal outside an abortion clinic.https://t.co/AzcQHeO02H
— Christian Concern (@CConcern) December 2, 2022
According to Christian Concern, Livia Tossici-Bolt, the local leader of 40 Days for Life Bournemouth, is launching a legal challenge against the Council on the basis that the PSPO was “forced through following a questionable public consultation.” Tossici-Bolt is being represented by the Christian Legal Centre.
“Everyone must have the freedom to pray quietly in a public place. Everyone must have the freedom to give and to receive information. I, and my group of volunteers, would never dream of doing something that causes intimidation and harassment and I find extremely concerning that unfounded accusations of such reprehensible behaviour have been used for ideological gains to discredit genuine humanitarian endeavours,” Tossici-Bolt said in a statement. “We have already been intimidated out of exercising our freedom of thought and of expression, but have continued to defend these fundamental rights with a peaceful conduct.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, decried the rise of PSPO buffer zones. “The effect of the PSPO is to criminalise 40 Days’ activities in Bournemouth and to create an area where no discussion of abortion or even prayer relating to abortion, is permitted,” she said. “There is no evidence whatsoever to show that anyone is being harassed outside abortion clinics. The truth is quite the opposite. It is the abortion supporters who intimidate and harass and do not permit any dissenting viewpoint.”
Lawyers from Christian Legal Centre are also representing a similar lawsuit filed by members of 40 Days for Life in Birmingham.