Councillor Ben Miskell who has called for the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to create what he says will be a “buffer zone to protect women from intimidation”, has slammed inaction from the council, as anti-abortion protestors today mounted a controversial protest outside the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
Following similar protests outside a healthcare site across the Pennines, Manchester City Council are consulting on introducing a buffer zone, which Councillor Ben Miskell thinks colleagues in Sheffield should copy.
Councillor Ben Miskell said: “Something as serious as this shouldn’t fall due to bureaucratic hurdles or an unwillingness to act. We need to see action from the council to support women, many of which are outraged at what is happening outside the hospital. The city council and South Yorkshire Police needs to take an active role in gathering evidence to make the case for a PSPO, not sit on their hands”.
He went on to say: “We need urgent action to build the case for a buffer zone around the hospital. Women exercising their right to have an abortion shouldn’t face intimidation and deliberately distressing imagery, whilst entering the hospital site. This is totally unacceptable.”.
“The first duty of any public authority, like a local council is to protect citizens. This needs to be a priority and that’s why we need a buffer zone”.
Councillor Ben Miskell has previously written to Councillor Richard Williams, the Lib Dem Chair of the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee, that takes decisions on Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs). In that letter Councillor Ben Miskell said:
‘The Royal Hallamshire Hospital and Jessops provides vital healthcare services for women from right across South Yorkshire. We know from similar protests around the country, that anti-abortion groups using these tactics seek to intimidate women from accessing abortion services.”.
He went on to say: “Women’s reproductive human rights need protecting and it is women themselves, not protestor, who should have the ultimate say on their own bodies. That is why I am calling on you to follow the lead of our colleagues in Manchester, who are in the process of putting in place a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) outside of an abortion clinic in the city to protect women from intimidation”.