Sussex MPs agree on abortion clinic buffer zone plans

Sussex MPs have been divided over proposals to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics and hospitals in England and Wales.

Of the 16 county lawmakers, five voted to amend the Public Order Act to give women more protections by preventing protesters from gathering.

Those who voted in favor included Labor MPs from Brighton and Hove Peter Kyle and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Green MP for the Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham Tim Loughton and MP from Bexhill, Huw Merriman.

The move, pushed by a cross-party group of MPs, would introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics and hospitals where it would be punishable.

Those convicted face up to six months in prison for a first offense and two years for further offenses.

A buffer zone would apply to an area that is within 150 meters of any part of an abortion clinic or an access point to a building or site containing an abortion clinic.

MPs were given a free vote on the matter, with six Conservative Sussex MPs voting against the proposal; Arundel MP Andrew Griffith, Crawley MP Henry Smith, Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell, Hastings MP Sally-Ann Hart, Horsham MP Jeremy Quin and Lewes MP Maria Caulfield.

Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies, Bognor MP Nick Gibb, Chichester MP Gillian Keegan, Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley and Wealden MP Nusrat Ghani did not vote on the amendment .

Clare Murphy, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: “Each year around 100,000 women are treated by a clinic or hospital for an abortion targeted by anti-abortion protests.

“These groups attempt to discourage or prevent women from accessing abortion care by displaying graphic images of fetuses, calling woman killers and hanging baby clothes around clinic entrances, causing significant suffering to women.

“This vote will put an end to this activity.”

Mr Quin, a Home Office minister, described the change as a “blunt instrument”.

During a parliamentary debate, he said: “Within those 150-metre buffer zones houses could stand, churches could stand, but that would be a national decision covering all clinics.

“It is entirely possible to fully support a woman’s right to an abortion and also to view protests outside of abortion clinics as abhorrent, while still believing that the current legal framework provides an appropriate response.”

The Argus contacted all six Sussex MPs who voted against the change for comment. Sussex MPs agree on abortion clinic buffer zone plans

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