Praying for mothers and their unborn children is a form of "abuse and harassment," a Labour member of Parliament (MP) said as he called for a crackdown on anyone who opposes abortion.
Fabian Hamilton claimed abortion was an issue of "gender equality" as he backed laws on "buffer zones" around abortion centers.
And he said: "Anybody that seeks to actively deter the rights of these women to seek medical treatment must face the full extent of the law, under existing harassment laws."
Hamilton, the MP for Leeds North East since 1997, made the comments in the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Writing in reaction to pro-life vigils outside a Marie Stopes center, he said such people are part of "fanatical groups"—an accusation rejected by pro-lifers.
He wrote: "Unfortunately, women who use abortion centers are becoming regularly exposed to abuse and harassment from anti-abortion activists standing outside the clinic, often kneeling in prayer." He also claimed they displayed explicit images.
Hamilton wants the government to legislate against what he called an "obstruction of women's freedoms and right to free health care."
Dismissing free speech concerns, he claimed their actions were unlawful and called for extra laws against them.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said the MP's comments were "astounding."
"Mr. Hamilton is perpetuating the myth that women are being intimidated by the presence of a small number of peaceful people praying near an abortion clinic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Every year, hundreds of women have their lives turned round for the better when they decide to keep their baby after an encounter with a pro-life vigil."
During his time in Parliament, Fabian Hamilton has voted:
– against an explicit ban on sex-selective abortion;
– against offering counselling to women considering abortion for fetal abnormality;
– and against requiring practitioners providing abortion to under 16-year-olds to inform parents.
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