Police investigate attack on pro-life vigil in Manchester

The incident took place outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Fallowfield, a suburb of Manchester(Photo: Google Maps)

Police are investigating after a passer-by disrupted a pro-life vigil outside an abortion clinic in Manchester, sending their deckchair and leaflets flying. 

According to Mancunian Matters, the campaigners hosting the vigil were pensioners who were praying at the time. 

The pro-life vigil was taking place outside a Marie Stopes clinic as part of the international '40 Days for Life' campaign against abortion that takes place during Lent.

The individual reportedly shouted profanities at the campaigners and hurled their pro-life placards and leaflets over a fence. 

Jason McShane-Chapman, Marie Stopes UK's Regional Manager for Manchester and Leeds told the Manchester Evening News that the incident was evidence that pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics are 'inappropriate'. 

'We are aware that an incident took place outside our Manchester centre on Friday,' he said.

'Any kind of aggressive or confrontational behaviour outside a health centre is clearly unacceptable, and does not help people who are trying to access the service.

'Unfortunately, the presence of lobby groups like 40 Days for Life outside our clinics can cause tensions to rise and this incident demonstrates why it is inappropriate for protests to take place where potentially vulnerable women are trying to access legal NHS funded healthcare.'

40 Days for Life international campaigns director Robert Colquhoun told the Manchester Evening News that the vigil had been peaceful. 

'40 Days for Life organise peaceful, prayerful and legal vigils outside of abortion centres in the United Kingdom.

'In nine years of ministry we have not seen a single substantiated case of harassment or intimidation by any of our volunteers in that time. We have however received abuse from passers by.

'It has been estimated in the last 5 years that thanks to all all groups that organise prayer vigils in the UK outside abortion centres there are over 1,000 babies who were scheduled for an abortion, but are alive today thanks to volunteers who witness for life in a peaceful, loving and compassionate manner.' 

The Manchester Evening News reports that the city council is considering introducing buffer zones similar to those seen in London around local abortion clinics.

Richmond Council last week became the second in London after Ealing to introduce a buffer zone around an abortion clinic preventing pro-life campaigners from handing out information or offering prayer. Pro-life groups say the buffer zones amount to censorship. 

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said there was a 'vilification campaign in the media' after a second incident last Thursday in Nottingham. 

Pro-life volunteer John Edwards told SPUC that he and two others were attacked as they prayed peacefully outside Queens Medical Centre. 

'Shortly before 5pm, a young man approached the three volunteers who were present, including me. We were praying quietly,' he said.

'He swore abusively and then threw a jug of yellow liquid at us. The liquid was lumpy.

'It hit one member of the vigil in the face, hair and body, and the other two of us on our bodies, clothes, shoes.

'He then disappeared. None of the vigil members responded in any way.' 

John Deighan, Deputy CEO of SPUC said: 'The violence targeted at pro-life people comes at a time when the media and abortion campaigners are conducting a vilification campaign against the pro-life movement.

'It is a disgraceful tactic which encourages violence and intimidation against peaceful people who are brave enough to stand witness for the lives of the unborn.'