An extreme bill to ban pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics failed to pass in the House of Commons at second reading in a welcome victory for free speech.
Labour MP Rupa Huq first introduced the Bill in January 2020 and it would have introduced censorship zones around abortion clinics in England and Wales.
However, it failed to progress in the House of Commons after an objection from a fellow MP prevented the Bill from proceeding.
When the bill was first introduced, prominent backbench MP Fiona Bruce spoke out against the legislation, highlighting the devastating impact it would have on freedom of expression.
Home Secretary still considering the need for buffer zones
Despite the failure of the bill to proceed, the iNews Newspaper is reporting that Ministers are still considering introducing buffer zones around abortion clinics.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is said to be having meetings with backbench MPs to discuss the issue and fresh measures could be tabled to the Police Powers and Protections Bill which is awaiting its second reading in the Commons.
Many vigils outside abortion clinics involve prayer and the offer of emotional support for women entering the clinics. When done well, these vigils offer no threat, or offence and there are beautiful stories of lives saved because of interventions outside abortion clinics. The fundamental problem with buffer zones is the threat they pose to genuine free speech. To censor pro-life vigils would be an undeniable undermining of freedom of expression. In 2018, the then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid said that nationwide buffer zones would be 'disproportionate'. We would urge the current Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to reflect on Mr Javid's conclusions.