A pro-choice group in Nottingham is prepared to protest for women’s rights and assist those who are seeking abortion services at QMC ahead of planned protests.
Pro-Choice Nottingham will set up a counter-protest and an escort service to assist women seeking to use the medical facility if the anti-abortion group 40 Days for Life carry out a planned protest outside Queen’s Medical Centre in February.
Ahead of the proposed campaigning, which is due to take place from February 14 and run until March 25 outside QMC, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust announced that they will not allow any protests on hospital sites that will be disruptive to patients or staff.
Despite a similar ban last year, the anti-abortion group proceeded to carry out a protest.
Pro-Choice Nottingham said they had reassured the hospital that they “have no intention of carrying out any type of protest except as a response to 40 Days for Life continuing to harass people – if they are removed from hospital grounds then we will have no reason to be there.”
The hospital have made contact with the campaigners, police and the Treatment Centre to ensure that all those who need access to the services “can do so without intimidation.”
Tracy Taylor, chief executive of NUH, said: “The Trust’s priority is protecting the health, safety and welfare of its patients, visitors and staff.
“Previous protests by this group have caused very considerable distress to patients, visitors and staff; which we are not prepared to allow to happen again.”
Last spring 40 Days for Life campaigners protested for 12 hours a day outside QMC, from 8am to 8pm, for forty days after also staging a similar protest in 2016.
Pro-Choice Nottingham was formed in response to the anti-abortion protests and have said they will “remain vigilant” to action 40 Days for Life take.
One pro-choice activist, Rachel Strong said: “Their presence outside the clinics contribute to a sense of fear, guilt and shame that is associated with this medical procedure.”
The protest comes as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service continues with its ‘Back Off’ campaign, which is calling for legislation to create a buffer zone around clinics that protesters would not be allowed to enter.
Helen Voce, CEO of Nottingham Women’s Centre, said: “We are really happy that the hospital have made this statement.
“We have been working with Nottinghamshire Police to reduce street harassment of women, and a lot of the 40 Days for Life protesters outside clinics are men.”
Councillor Nick McDonald, Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for adults and health, said: “We fully support Nottingham University Hospital Trust’s stance on this protest, given the clear potential for the distress it is likely to cause patients, visitors and staff.
“Of course people have every right to their own views on these sorts of issues, but in my view no one has the right to intimidate or cause distress to others in the manner we have seen in previous years from this protest.”
Cross party Nottinghamshire MPs Alex Norris, Anna Soubry and Lilian Greenwood have also shown their support for the hospital’s decision via Twitter.
— Lilian Greenwood (@LilianGreenwood) January 17, 2018
The hospital have stressed that they would take a similar approach with any protest having a negative impact on patients or staff, regardless of their viewpoint.
CBJ Star contacted a representative from 40 Days for Life but they declined to comment.