Speaker John Bercow has called an anti-abortion campaign’s targeting of pregnant, pro-choice MP Stella Creasy “vile”.
The Labour MP for Walthamstow, who has suffered two miscarriages and is now heavily pregnant, has been targeted by activists from the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform UK (CBR UK).
The 42-year-old MP has said the campaigners’ activism amounts to harassment and has upset her constituents.
Protestors staged a march at the weekend and posted graphic adverts, which included Creasy’s face and a dead baby, on a billboard, bus stops, and a phone box around Walthamstow.
Creasy has been a prominent campaigner for extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland, where the Stormont assembly is not sitting but the region remains the only part of the UK where a termination is illegal.
Asking for Bercow’s advice in the Commons, Creasy said: “For the last six days, a group calling itself the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform has been waging a campaign of intimidation and harassment at myself and by extension my constituents in Walthamstow.”
She said protestors had turned up in the high street with “a 20ft banner of my head next to a dead baby, about the same age as the baby I am currently carrying, saying I was working hard to achieve such an outcome.”
Bercow told the Commons on Wednesday that no MP should be subject to “bullying and “intimidation” of such “intensity”, and the fact that it was happening to Creasy while pregnant was “doubly appalling”.
“I believe that campaigning of that kind, with the intensity involved and explicit public threat to its apparently endless continuation, is vile, unconscionable and despicable,” Bercow said.
He said there was a difference between “putting a point of view with considerable force” and “putting it in extreme and provocative terms” and telling an MP they must “give in” or continue to face endless intimidation.
Bercow went on to say such a campaign of intimidation was “rank unacceptable” and “displays [..] an absence of any moral compass.”
On Monday, Clear Channel Direct, the company that owns the advertising space where CBR UK’s billboard was posted, pulled the billboard and apologised for the campaign.