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WATCH: Officers confront, “move on” retiree for offering help to pregnant women on public street

  • Livia Tossici-Bolt, 63, has brought a complaint against officers who forced her off of a public street, with support from ADF UK
  • The retiree held a sign reading “PREGNANT? NEED HELP?”, while remaining outside the “buffer zone” around the local abortion facility in this instance
  • Public consultation on government “buffer zone” guidance now open 

BOURNEMOUTH (18th December 2023) – A retired scientist and charitable volunteer has brought a formal complaint against council officials who forced her to move from a public street where she was standing, peacefully praying, and holding a sign.  

Livia Tossici-Bolt, who believes that, “both Mum and baby matter in every pregnancy,” had been advertising charitable help on offer to women in crisis pregnancy situations. Three officers approached her and accused her of breaching the local “buffer zone,” which bans “expressions of approval or disapproval” of abortion, including through prayer. In this instance, Tossici-Bolt was not standing within the zone. 

Tossici-Bolt’s complaint comes while the government is soliciting public input on non-statutory guidance regarding the implementation of “buffer zones” across England and Wales.

The officers accused Tossici-Bolt of standing within the local “buffer zone”; but video evidence confirms that the volunteer was outside of the zone’s boundary, and out of sight of the facility, at a distance of over 150m away. 

I have devoted my time to supporting women in crisis pregnancies for many years, sharing information about support available should they choose to keep their babies. This is what real choice looks like for women. In implementing a censorial ‘buffer zone,’ the authorities have deterred me from offering that help where it’s needed most, near the abortion facility. But even now, when I have stood outside the boundary of the censorship zone, authorities have acted to intimidate and remove me – simply for praying and offering help. It isn’t right that they should be allowed to do this, solely on the basis that they disagree with my peacefully-expressed beliefs,” said Livia Tossici-Bolt.  

With support from ADF UK, a retired scientist and charitable volunteer has brought a formal complaint against council officials who forced her to move from a public street where she was standing, peacefully praying, and holding a sign.

“Livia’s interrogation is the clearest example yet of the dangerous slippery slope posed by nationwide censorship zones. The purported blanket bans on prayer and consensual conversations were never about the prevention of harassment and intimidation – after all, in the UK, not a single pro-life vigil volunteer has been convicted for harassment and intimidation in over 40 years of prolife presence near abortion facilities.

Rather, these zones have the effect of stamping out pro-life views from the public square. If the state is allowed to criminalise the mere holding of prolife viewpoints within certain public spaces, on what basis can we object to criminalisation in all public spaces? The principle of freedom of thought and speech must be defended both within and outside ‘buffer zones’ – the alternative is state sponsored censorship, the silencing of those with viewpoints considered non-mainstream, and the undermining of the very fabric of our democracy,” commented Jeremiah Igunnubole, Legal Counsel for ADF UK. 

Censoring alternative options to abortion 

Women who have benefited from the help offered by pro-life volunteers nearby abortion facilities have spoken out against the implementation of “buffer zones,” which censor such information from being shared. 

Carla, interviewed below, entered an abortion facility in Birmingham, believing that she did not have the financial means to continue her pregnancy. But thanks to an encounter with a pro-life charitable volunteer outside the clinic, she and her partner Danny found the resources necessary to make an empowered choice for parenthood.  

“I don’t see any problem with peaceful prayer. It wasn’t intimidating to us at all, in fact quite the opposite, it was comforting. Had Danny not had that one person there that one day, I don’t think he would have had the strength to text me to come out, and say that we can do this… 

We had all of the help we needed, with no intimidation or pressure or anything. There is absolutely no need for ‘buffer zones,’” commented Carla. 

 This month, the government have opened a public consultation on official guidance on the ‘buffer zones’ set to be rolled out across all abortion facilities in England and Wales in 2024.  

“The consultation offers an opportunity for the public to appeal to the government to protect basic freedoms – freedom for adults to hold consensual conversations and freedom to hold one’s own private thoughts in their own mind without interference. These basic freedoms are now under threat and can no longer be taken for granted – they must be actively defended. Today, it’s pro-life views; tomorrow, it could be another viewpoint that falls out of favour. Regardless of the topic, it is not for the state to dictate what speech, thought, and views are acceptable, particularly when peacefully and lawfully expressed. We urge the public to respond to the consultation to ensure that the government and law enforcement endorse, uphold and protect essential democratic freedoms,” said Jeremiah Igunnubole, Legal Counsel for ADF UK. 


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