THE CHIEF of staff at a Bournemouth abortion clinic has described the "deeply unpleasant" situation women are facing due to anti-abortion protestors.

In July, BCP Council launched a public consultation to ask people for their views on the introduction of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) (also known as a buffer zone or safe zone) around the BPAS Abortion Clinic in Ophir Road.

The consultation, which offered residents three options, closed on September 4.

READ MORE: Council launches public consultation for abortion clinic buffer zone

Chief of staff at BPAS, Rachael Clarke said a number of anti-groups have been present at the clinic over the last five years, gathering outside the gates or on the piece of grass opposite the clinic.

She said: “They have signs, they approach women. They hand out leaflets with false medical information in them.

“We've got an account from a woman during lockdown whose partner and children had to come with her because childcare wasn't available.

“They stayed in the car outside and they had a woman walking around the car the whole time she was inside brandishing a cross at them. We have baby socks left in the bushes, outside and baby clothes.

“We have people come onto the property and try and way lay women who can't get away from them because they're in their cars.

“It has been deeply, deeply unpleasant over a number of years.”

READ MORE: Petition for Bournemouth abortion clinic reaches 2,000 signatures

Rachael said it is a ‘long lasting problem’ for both residents and staff.

She said: “It’s incredibly distressing. No matter what the intentions of the people outside are.

“The way that it's experienced, particularly by women attending is that they feel they're being harassed, that they feel they're being judged, that they're being pressured into making decisions that they've already made when they've turned up to the clinic.

“I think for staff it's a long lasting problem because it's day in, day out, we have staff that say they don't want to cycle to work because they don't want to have to go past protesters.

“There are staff members who find it incredibly upsetting because they believe that it compromises the care they can provide to women.

“I think that our ability to provide confidential high quality care is really harmed by what the people are doing.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Rachael said this legislation is very much needed as they have exhausted other avenues to keep the area free of protestors.

She said: “Our experience in Bournemouth and everywhere around the country is that they believe they have the right to be there.

“They are not influenced by the upset they're causing to our clients because their position is that abortion is murder and that abortion harms women. And therefore they believe that they're serving a purpose, an important job by being outside the clinic.

“They're not convinced by us who they believe are bad people, and they're not convinced by the police asking them to move away or abide by certain roles.

“Really the only thing that has worked and that does work is a public spaces, protection order, like a buffer zone outside the clinic.

“90 per cent of the people that have responded support the buffer zone proposal so that there really is huge support out there.

READ MORE: BCP Council response to buffer zone at abortion clinic plea

“We want the buffer zone and we want the buffer zone without a designated area. That was option one that they were consulting on.

“What we need is for the people to be out of sight line of the clinic so that they're not compromising women's confidentiality and unable really to pick women out as they're walking down the street to work out that that's where they're going.

“So what we want is the proposal that they put forward, but without the designated areas.”