Abortion clinics call for nationwide ban on protesters around clinics
Chairman Margreet Jansen of Stisan, an umbrella organization that covers nine abortion clinics, would like to see a nationwide ban on demonstrations in the vicinity of the clinics. She wants national politicians to start paying attention to this issue of protesters harassing and intimidating women who visit the clinics, NOS reports.
Earlier this week, mayor Ahmed Marcouch of Arnhem decided that demonstrations or flyers are no longer allowed within a radius of 500 meters around an abortion clinic. He wants to end "annoying and intimidating behavior" by protesters towards women who visit the clinic.
According to Jansen, this problem is not limited to Arnhem. At all 14 Dutch clinics protesters talk to the women to try to change their minds. "But women don't want unsolicited advice and it can upset them. Then they enter the clinic emotionally," says Jansen. She also wants protesters to stay at least 500 meters away from the clinics.
"They are also intimidated. It's about freedom of choice. Women come to us at a time in their lives when they are vulnerable, whether it's a young adult or someone who is in menopause and yet turns out to be pregnant. You finally have made your decision and then there are people with banners and you are approached," Jansen said.
The Chairman of Stisan has been pleading for a ban for quite some time.. "Locally it is not really getting off the ground, I am glad that it was picked up in Arnhem, but I think we have to put in a lot of effort." She made an approach to the municipality in Zwolle, but has yet to receive an answer to her request for a demonstration ban.
Demonstrating is a fundamental right in the Netherlands, which means that the police can't intervene unless a law is broken. Recently the party Jesus Lives in Zwolle disrupted the public order and police ordered them to leave. During the demonstration the demonstrators were intimidating and aggressive towards the woman shouting “killers” at them, according to NOS.
Several times a week demonstrations are held at some clinics, chairman Jansen says. Last year Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health did mention that he supports municipalities if they want to protect women with a buffer zone. A court in Haarlem also recently ruled that municipalities can take action against protesters harassing women at such clinics.