It’s an undercurrent, it bubbles away just below the surface of society.
It rarely makes it’s way into coffee shop chat, actually it rarely makes it way into the darkest secret swap.
This word is loaded.
Fewer words can draw out as much emotion in us.
I am currently on my journalism ‘journey’.
Cringe if you must.
Our remit is to always be looking for stories:
I came across a story last week: Ealing Borough council were to vote on granting an ‘exclusion zone’ otherwise known as, a Public Spaces Protection Order, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic.
A group, Sister Support, had launched a petition which gathered thousands of signatures.
Crucially enough signatures to get the council to sit up and consider their wishes.
These wishes were simple.
Allow women seeking medical help the dignity and right to walk into the abortion clinic without being taunted by people chanting prayers outside the entrance.
Allegations of women being streamed on Facebook-live entering or leaving the clinic had been made. Being confronted by the protesters had left many patients of the clinic deeply upset.
For 20 years.
How many women, possibly wracked with confusion and despair, have had to walk past these protesters just to reach the treatment they are legally entitled too?
Come on Ealing. Make a stand.
Shocked over the images of these ‘chanting elders’ I felt the need to investigate on a more local level. On the south coast we have a clinic in Brighton and Eastbourne run by BPAS.
A charitable organisation.
I contacted their spokesperson and asked how important this exclusion zone is, and why it is needed.
The response was chilling.
Brighton was by far the most targeted of the two clinics. Placards baring images of aborted foetuses, shouting indignities, attempts to humiliate and ‘call out’ any woman who dare to cross their path.
Often the chanting of prayer and the shouting can be heard in the waiting rooms of these clinics.
Women who are vulnerable.
Women who are making one of the toughest decisions of their lives.
Do they deserve this?
Ealing council doesn’t think so.
They ruled in favour of implementing the exclusion zone on Tuesday, October 10.
A landmark decision that could, should, create a domino effect nationwide.
Not wanting to be unbalanced I also contacted Abort 67.
Abort 67 define themselves as being a ‘pro-life’ organisation who seek to educate women about abortion.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel speaking to someone who organises ‘Public Education Displays’ as they are so-called.
As a trainee Journalist and not yet a bonafide, experience-savvy Journo, I knew this would be a real test.
One must remain neutral.
I am merely reporting the facts.
Don’t get emotionally involved.
Their argument was surprisingly compelling. I listened while this passionate woman explained that her group see themselves as educators, and not protesters.
Abort 67 are filling an education-void by showing images and sharing information:
Abortion ‘The Untold Facts’.
Not quite a blockbuster.
Nonetheless it was fascinating listening to the other side of such an emotive argument.
With such conviction.
I asked what her thoughts were on the proposed exclusion zone around the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing.
Citing ‘freedom of speech’ as one of her fundamental human rights in this country, she felt appalled that they may be silenced.
* * *
Abortion has been legal in this country since 1967.
Fifty years later, one clinic can now ensure that their patients can arrive in peace.
Free of judgement.
A fundamental human right?