Pro-life group denies harassment of Stella Creasy after graphic billboard is pulled

Labour MP and abortion advocate Stella Creasy(Photo: Sky News)

The campaign group behind a controversial anti-abortion billboard pulled hours after it went on display in Walthamstow has denied harassing Labour MP Stella Creasy.

Creasy, who is pregnant, claims to have been the victim of a campaign of "sustained harassment" by the pro-life group CBR UK over its billboard campaign launched in her constituency over the weekend showing a nine-week old foetus next to a picture of her and promoting the website, 

The Stop Stella campaign is being run by the organisation in opposition to Creasy's attempts to further liberalise abortion laws in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Earlier this year, she put forward an amendment to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland in the event that the Stormont Executive does not reconvene by October 21. The changes will make it possible for abortion up to the point of viability in the province, far later than the rest of the UK where the upper limit is 24 weeks. 

Creasy contacted the police over the billboard, which was subsequently removed by advertising agency Clear Channel. 

To coincide with the billboard, CBR UK had run a graphic education campaign in Walthamstow on Saturday with 'Stop Stella' posters and flyers showing what it described as a 24-week-old aborted baby girl. 

Appearing on BBC's Woman's Hour on Tuesday, Creasy said she had been "shocked" by the images and that they were "scientifically untrue".

"This has been a campaign of sustained harassment against myself," she said.

She continued: "And I have to be honest that when I saw the pictures of the 20 foot banner they had of my head next to a baby about the same age as the baby I'm currently carrying, suggesting that I want to kill babies, it hurt. I would defy anybody not to be shocked by that image.

"But also my heart went out to every woman in Walthamstow who's ever had miscarriages as I have, suffered baby loss or chosen for her own reasons to have an abortion and had to walk past that." 

She went on to say that the posters were not a "respectful" way of debating abortion and that she was angry with the police for failing to intervene.

(Photo: CBR UK)

"It's very clear that this is not about having a respectful debate about what the right regulation for abortion is ... this is a form of harassment and intimidation," she said.

"We've seen it around abortion clinics in this country and to be honest what I'm really angry with is the police and frankly the Home Secretary who told us that the provisions were in place to protect women from these forms of harassment and intimidation, and as ... we're still discovering - because this group have threatened to keep coming back and keep targeting me - those protections clearly aren't there.

"I don't want any woman to go through what I've been through over the last couple of days." 

She said that while she was a "passionate defender of free speech", there was no "unqualified right to intimidate and harass people who they disagree with and that is what they are trying to do".

CBR UK spokeswoman Ruth Rawlings appeared on the programme to defend the campaign and the images.  Pressed on their authenticity by interviewer Jane Garvey, she said that the images were from an abortionist who had verified and signed them. 

She revealed that the organisation was planning to run similar campaigns against other pro-abortion MPs.

Asked why CBR UK was targeting Creasy, Rawlings said: "We're targeting Stella Creasy because she is targeting the unborn child. She is pushing to remove all protections from the unborn child by removing [sections] 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act.

"If she moves these amendments, the unborn child will have no protection up to 28 weeks." 

She added: "This is not about party politics. This is about holding MPs to account so there will be other MPs that we will be targeting." 

Later on the interview, Rawlings admitted that the images were "graphic" but defended displaying them in public, saying, "that is the exact procedure that Stella Creasy wants to see more liberalised."

She said: "It is interesting why Stella Creasy wants to cry victim when she is victimising the unborn in the womb ... we need to show the humanity of these babies." 

She continued: "The police have stated specifically that no harassment is taking place ... We were showing what Stella Creasy wants to take place. She wants abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 28 weeks.

"I wonder if Stella Creasy knows what happens in a 28 week abortion procedure because the baby is injected into the head to give it cardiac arrest and he is pulled apart piece by piece."

Rawlings was interrupted by Garvey at this point, who told her: "That is going to be too much I think for many people to hear." 

"But that's the reality," Rawlings added.