PROTESTS outside an abortion clinic have “all but vanished” after a buffer zone was introduced.

BPAS Bournemouth says the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) enforced outside the clinic in Ophir Road has been effective at managing “anti-abortion extremists”.

The PSPO around the clinic has been in place since October last year and criminalises “protesting, namely engaging in an act of approval/disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services”.

Despite being praised by BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) and pro-choice campaigners, the order has drawn criticism from some groups who have questioned its legitimacy.

Bournemouth Echo: National director of Christian Voice UK, Stephen Green, outside BPAS clinic in Bournemouth National director of Christian Voice UK, Stephen Green, outside BPAS clinic in Bournemouth (Image: Newsquest)

As previously reported, an army veteran is challenging a fine from BCP Council after he silently prayed outside the clinic in memory of ‘his son’ after 'paying for a partner to have an abortion more than 20 years prior'.

Adam Smith-Connor said: “Nobody should be criminalised for what they believe – especially not when they express that belief silently, in the privacy of their own minds.”

In February, meanwhile, Christian Voice UK demonstrated against the PSPO where a spokesman read from the Bible and described the buffer zone order as “really a bit silly”.

However, clinic operator BPAS says the order has had a strong impact on preventing protests which it claims were occurring “daily” in previous years.

Bournemouth Echo: BPAS clinic in Bournemouth.BPAS clinic in Bournemouth. (Image: Newsquest)

BPAS chief of staff Rachael Clarke said: “Since the introduction of the zone around BPAS Bournemouth, the daily protests we had been seeing outside the clinic for years have all but vanished.

“As with these zones elsewhere in the country, it has been an effective way of managing what was a highly distressing and intimidating set of behaviour towards women and staff.

“Earlier this year, Parliament passed a new law to introduce safe access zones across England and Wales, specifically in response to activities such as this.

“We look forward to their national introduction, and the continued protection of women from anti-abortion extremists whose only purpose is to dissuade and deter them from accessing healthcare to which they’re legally entitled.”

Anyone failing to comply with the PSPO could incur a fixed penalty notice of £100 or be liable for a criminal conviction.