UK Woman Faces Trial for Allegedly Violating Abortion ‘Buffer Zone’

UK Woman Faces Trial for Allegedly Violating Abortion ‘Buffer Zone’

Livia Tossici-Bolt, a 62-year-old retired medical scientist from Bournemouth, U.K., is facing a trial for offering peaceful and consensual conversation inside a censored “buffer zone” surrounding an abortion clinic.

Tossici-Bolt held a sign near an abortion clinic that read, in simple black letters, “Here to talk, if you want to.” According to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) UK, several people did approach her to discuss their situations and problems. She said that she had been offering a helping hand to women who desired to consider options other than abortion for several years.

Local authorities confronted Tossici-Bolt and alleged that she had breached the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) issued by the Bournemouth, Christchurch & Pool (BCP) Council in 2022 that created a censored “buffer zone” around the clinic. Authorities issued her a Fixed Penalty Notice, which she refused to pay, citing her right under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act to offer consensual conversations, in addition to claiming that she did not breach the PSPO.

Tossici-Bolt, represented by the Christian conservative legal group ADF UK, is awaiting her trial date.

“There’s nothing wrong with offering help,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with two adults engaging in a consensual conversation on the street. I shouldn’t be treated like a criminal just for this.”

This is the second time Tossici-Bolt has been confronted by authorities for her peaceful work. Policemen attempted to move Tossici-Bolt from a public street where she held a sign that read, “Pregnant? Need help?” with a crisis pregnancy helpline number.

Officers accused her of violating the buffer zone, but she was not within the censored area. Authorities claimed that the map she used to prove it was “confusing,” despite the fact that it was a replica of the map on the council’s website. BCP Council apologized for wrongfully causing Tossici-Bolt to feel “distressed and harassed.”

The U.K. government passed the Public Order Act in 2023, establishing “buffer zones” around abortion clinics where “influence” of any form is prohibited. Pro-life volunteers have suffered from the censorship as they sought to pray and help vulnerable women. Some, such as Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, have even been confronted by officers and arrested for silently praying in their minds within a buffer zone.

“We all condemn harassment. But ‘buffer zones’ are going so far even to criminalize activities which are peaceful and helpful,” Tossici-Bolt said.

The U.K.’s Home Office issued draft guidance clarifying the rights to consensual conversation and silent prayer within buffer zones, but some members of Parliament have demanded this protection be removed, according to ADF UK.

“[Tossici-Bolt] was interrogated for praying and offering charitable help even outside of a buffer zone on one occasion—exposing the reality of the slippery slope of censorship. If the state is allowed to criminalize the mere holding of prolife viewpoints within certain public spaces, on what basis can we object to criminalization in all public spaces?” said Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK.

“The purported blanket bans on prayer and consensual conversations were never about the prevention of harassment and intimidation—after all, in the U.K., not a single pro-life vigil volunteer has been convicted for harassment and intimidation in over 40 years of pro-life presence near abortion facilities,” he added.

Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom UK

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