Anti-abortion activists can protest outside Utrecht clinic, court rules
The anti-abortion activists of Jezus Leeft were wrongly assigned a different place to protest at an abortion clinic in Utrecht last year, the court in Utrecht ruled on Wednesday. Mayor Sharon Dijksma allowed the demonstration at a loading and unloading point about 70 meters away from the clinic. But according to the judge, there was insufficient substantiation for why Jezus Leeft could not stand at the Vrelinghuis itself.
The mayor made the decision because “a demonstration at Vrelinghuis would lead to unsafe traffic situations in which the then-current rule to keep a distance of 1.5 meters could not be complied with,” the court outlined. The demonstrators wanted to park their vehicle with a banner in front of the abortion clinic.
“In her decision, the mayor only included the sidewalk directly in front of the abortion clinic and the sidewalk across the street. However, the mayor should have included the parking spaces on the other side of the street opposite the clinic in the decision,” the court ruled.
The demonstration was supposed to happen last year between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on Liberation Day, with a total of three demonstrators remaining in the vehicle, a kind of ambulance. The court found that the municipality did not show that this would have caused an unsafe traffic situation. “If people wanted to cross to the ambulance at all, they could do so via the pedestrian crossing.” This means that the mayor’s decision is “insufficiently motivated,” and she now has to make a new decision. The Jezus Leeft demonstration ultimately did not occur, but the association went to court.
“With this ruling, the court does not say that the association can now demonstrate in the parking lot in front of the abortion clinic. That decision remains with the mayor.”
Multiple municipalities have implemented a buffer zone around abortion clinics. Protesters are not allowed to address women on their way to the clinic in that buffer zone. In June, part of parliament, including the VVD, PvdA, GroenLinks, and SP, demanded that women who go to abortion clinics be better protected. Minister Ernst Kuipers of Public Health said he is not in favor of national rules.
Reporting by ANP