An anti-abortion display took place outside a Lewisham doctor’s surgery on March 4 in a protest against the use of the surgery for carrying out abortions.
Pro-life group Abort67 stood outside St John’s Medical Centre on Loampit Hill with placards displaying graphic images of abortion.
Ruth Rawlins, Abort67’s London coordinator, revealed her organisation requested a meeting with officials at the health centre but they did not get back to them.
“The reason we were there was because this is obviously a GP health centre and they rent out a room to a private abortion clinic,” she said.
“A GP surgery is a place you go to get better, not a place where you go to take a child’s life.”
Rawlins said the Abort67 representatives had spoken to many patients from the surgery who were not aware of abortions taking place there. St John’s Medical Centre is listed on the Marie Stopes website as its Lewisham clinic, offering medical abortion appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week.
She also said many locals were shocked to see the graphic images outside the heath centre as they did not realise how “gruesome” abortion is.
A number of patients were said to be outraged at the practice, while some were upset.
“Our mission is to educate and change the way people think about abortion,” Rawlins said. “We aim to make abortion unthinkable by exposing it. But we treat everyone respectfully and even if they are shouting at us we remain calm.”
Colin Stears, management partner at St John’s Medical Centre, said he “couldn’t possibly comment on a third party quote” about patients being outraged, but insisted the abortion service is not run by the clinic itself.
“They are not our services, but they use our facilities,” Stears explained. “They are not associated with the practice.”
Jason Warriner, chief nurse at Marie Stopes UK, said his organisation respects protestors’ rights for a peaceful demonstration but slammed those using “aggressive tactics” who have “little idea of the distress they are causing”
Warriner said: “I want to reassure women that we have measures in place to ensure they can safely access our services,”
“The safety and wellbeing of the women using our services is of utmost importance to us and the last thing we want is for anybody to feel any additional stress or worry about getting past protestors at what can be an already difficult time.”
“Women are legally entitled to access our services, and it is entirely their choice – and one-one else’s – if they do so.”
Abort67 is due to return to St John’s Medical Centre for a further display on March 17.