Anti-abortion protestors demonstrate outside Stevenage clinic

A Catholic prayer group demonstrate outside the Danestrete Centre

A Catholic prayer group demonstrate outside the Danestrete Centre - Credit: Archant

A religious group began staging public prayer demonstrations outside an abortion clinic on Friday and will continue to do so until it is shut down.

The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, which is made up of Catholics from across Hertfordshire, intends to continue praying outside the Danestrete Health Centre in Stevenage until the abortion clinic, operated at the centre by sexual health organisation Marie Stopes International, is no longer in use.

The clinic is open on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings,

John Dean, group organiser for The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, said: “It is our belief that abortion is a morally wrong practice and that it goes against the word of God.

“We feel there is a huge amount of evidence to show just how damaging such an operation can be, not only emotionally, but also physically for the women involved.

“It’s almost as if the Government is involved in a cover-up to keep people from knowing the truth. We will continue to meet here every week until the clinic has been shut down.”

Members of the group emphasised that they do not aim to demonise women who have undergone terminations but actually provide them with support and other alternatives.

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Member Margaret Leahy, 68, who lives in Letchworth GC, said: “It is our belief that abortion is a form of murder which should not be condoned in modern society.

“We understand that many young women feel confused and trapped by their circumstances and so the only thing they can think to do is have an abortion. We are simply here to spread the message that there are alternatives such as, for example, adoption.

“We do not condemn the individuals involved because it is society that has told them it is acceptable to do this.”

The group has spoken to women going in and out of the clinic, offering advice and sharing leaflets detailing various stages of pregnancy and the negative effects of abortion.

A spokesman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said: “People with an ethical objection to abortion who choose to express that belief by standing outside clinics are behaving in a way that is at best unhelpful and at worst extremely cruel.

“Women tell us they do not want strangers approaching them about these deeply personal issues and in many cases are frightened and intimidated by the actions of protestors. We urge groups such as this one to target their campaign at politicians rather than taking it upon themselves to forcibly impose their extreme views on women at a difficult time in their lives.”

The Comet contacted Marie Stopes International but the health organisation had not provided a comment at the time of going to press.