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Ten Things You Should Know About Anti-Abortion Protestors Before You Go for an Abortion

31/03/2016 11:18 | Updated 31 March 2016

all women everywhere

I wish I didn't have to write this piece, I really do. I wish you could walk into your appointment without hassle from people who don't want you to have an abortion, but the truth is, you probably won't.

Let's get this straight: you have the right to use legal abortion services free from harassment or intimidation. And while not everyone who sees the protesters is upset by them, we know that their activities can add to the stress some women feel about having an abortion, and that's just not on.

There is widespread public support for a woman's right to abortion in the UK. Fewer than one in 10 people are opposed to abortion, and of those that are, only a small minority feel minded to stand outside clinics protesting.

So, if you have an appointment, forewarned is forearmed. Here's what you should know.

1. Staff at your abortion clinic will take your safety and wellbeing very seriously and will be there to take care of you at every step. If you're worried about protesters, give the clinic a call before you arrive and they should be able to meet you and escort you in.

2. Not all abortion services have protesters outside. Increasingly, services offering medical abortion, where pills are taken to end a pregnancy, are located in general healthcare settings like a local GP surgery, and so don't tend to attract protests.

3. Larger centres that carry out medical and surgical abortions usually do have protesters outside, but these clinics are often set back from the road so you can drive past them if you arrive by car. Protesters are not allowed onto clinic premises, so you will not be followed.

4. Some of these protests are quiet and at a respectful distance, but some groups can be noisy and persistent in their approaches to women. They are not allowed to touch you or block your access and you do not have to speak to them.

5. Very occasionally, the protesters may be joined by a counter-protest - people who disagree with the anti-abortion protesters and who gather to make that point and show solidarity with women's right to choose if and when to have children.

I understand their motivation, but it can be hard to tell friend from foe when you're walking past, so clinics always discourage counter-protests where possible.

6. Protesters may have posters, leaflets or other materials designed to put you off using abortion services. They may also try to talk to you as you arrive. Take anything they say or give you with a massive dose of salt.

I've seen leaflets that say abortion causes cancer, or will make it hard for you to bond with any future children you may have to give you just two examples. It's utter nonsense, totally untrue. The staff in your clinic will be able to give you the facts or check out our website (www.mariestopes.org.uk) in advance.

7. Keep calm and keep walking. You'll soon be through the door.

8. Report anything to the clinic staff that you think they should know. They can and will call the Police if they feel the protesters have crossed a line.

9. Remember - protesters can't stop you from using an abortion service. It's your decision and no-one else's. These are legal services and you are entitled to use them if you choose to.

10. Once you're in the clinic, you'll be looked after by some of the kindest, most dedicated people working in healthcare. They choose to work in abortion clinics to support the one in three women who will need to end a pregnancy during her lifetime, and they walk through protests every single day to do it. You'll be in great hands.

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today. Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com with a summary of who you are and what you'd like to blog about

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