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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Good Counsel Writes to Amber Rudd on Buffer Zones

Clare McCullough, Director of The Good Counsel Network has written to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd in response to the letter she received from Rupa Huq and colleagues about Buffer Zones. You can help hundreds of Mothers to have an alternative to abortion, volunteer to join the Intern Programme . Come to our vigils here and support our work and the Mothers we support here.



15th November 2017



Dear Ms Rudd

I am writing to you in response to the letter of Ms Rupa Huq MP, requesting the implementation of buffer zones outside abortion centres, which was signed by 112 other MPs.

Firstly, I want to say that as the Director of The Good Counsel Network, which is lawfully present outside the Marie Stopes abortion centre in Ealing, we offer each woman entering the abortion centre a leaflet detailing help, support and alternatives to abortion. Hundreds of women have taken up this help and support which has enabled them to choose life for their children. Secondly, a small witness against abortion is held, several yards away from the entrance to the abortion centre. This usually consists of one or two people, occasionally as many as five, standing away from the abortion centre and praying quietly.  

In response to the many false and unevidenced allegations made by Ms Huq and her colleagues, I would like to state categorically that no-one attending our vigils calls women seeking abortion “murderers”.  Nor do we follow them. If these things were occurring at our vigils, which happen every day, there would be ample opportunity to provide proof of it. There is none.

The Good Counsel Network staff and volunteers do not have any graphic pictures of abortion on display whatsoever outside the abortion centre. We show several A4 sized images of the developing baby, which are accurate representations of babies in the womb at different stages. We do not display inaccurate pictures nor do we give women inaccurate medical information. The Good Counsel Network is the main group present at Mattock Lane in Ealing and we are there for about 38 hours per week.

During the many years we have been present outside Marie Stopes Ealing we have frequently met women entering who have stopped to speak to us precisely because they were unsure of their decision, felt under pressure to abort and often had no alternatives to abortion. Some women feel they have to abort to avoid homelessness, abuse, desertion and so on. These women include illegal immigrants, foreign students, trafficked women and a variety of UK residents who had other pressures on them that were not easy to address. Marie Stopes has no alternatives to offer these women.

On one occasion we had to call the police to assist a woman who was phoning us from inside the abortion centre because she did not want to abort, but also did not want to hurt those who had accompanied her. The police had to intervene before this woman managed to escape from the centre via a fire exit. She then took a taxi to our office, where we were able to give her the support she wanted. At no point did the abortion centre staff note that she did not want to go ahead with the abortion.

Miss Huq has repeatedly refused to meet with the many women who have changed their mind about their abortion because we have offered them help and support outside an abortion centre. Yet she and her colleagues feel competent to deny women that opportunity.  Ms Huq and those who co-signed her letter claim to speak on behalf of women, and to “trust women”, but this “trust” does not seem to apply to those women who seek and accept our help, and who, we are repeatedly told, are “not relevant” to this debate.

Marie Stopes International have been found wanting in their assessment of vulnerable women seeking abortion, for whom the proper procedures for obtaining consent and being sure of their personal freedom in choosing abortion, is particularly crucial. In fact, Marie Stopes agreed to suspend any surgical terminations for 10 weeks in 2016, and were prevented from seeing any young or vulnerable women during this period because of these findings. [i]

The CEO of British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Ann Furedi, stated recently that 15% of women change their mind at BPAS centres every year[ii]. This makes it quite clear that many women have not made up their minds to abort when they arrive at an abortion centre. Countrywide 15% of women entering abortion centres who have doubts equals tens of thousands of women who, if buffer zones are implemented, will not be offered any alternative by abortion centres. Women who are uncertain about going through with an abortion have a right to be provided with alternative support in a peaceful manner.

Our peaceful outreach to women entering abortion facilities is the simple action of offering them a leaflet, which they may choose to accept or not. I ask you to witness the peaceful work of The Good Counsel Network and not to legislate against this activity which has allowed hundreds of women to make a choice to keep their baby which would have been impossible for them otherwise.

Yours sincerely
Clare McCullough

Director, The Good Counsel Network



[i] The CQC report into Marie Stopes activities published 20th December 2016

[ii] Ann Furedi at the Battle of Ideas Sunday 29th October 2017

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