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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 10:31 GMT
Harley St bans abortion clinics
Abortion suction machine
There are mixed views over abortions
Clinics offering abortions and cosmetic surgery have been banned from opening in the UK's most famous medical district.

The move has been made by Howard de Walden Estate, which owns many of the properties in London's Harley Street.

Officials said they were trying to move away from "lifestyle procedures" to become a centre of medical excellence.

But campaigners said the estate was eroding women's rights by trying to impose its views on others.

The Howard de Walden Estate said no new licences would be granted for either cosmetic surgery or abortions and those currently practising such procedures would not have their licences renewed.

There are still doctors doing certain procedures that we'd rather were not here
Simon Baynham, of the Howard de Walden Estate

Simon Baynham, managing director of the Howard de Walden Estate, told the Estates Gazette magazine: "There are still doctors doing certain procedures that we'd rather were not here.

"So we are steering a course that will restrict them. These doctors have old leases and the policy is new. It'll take time to work such tenants out."

Other banned procedures include euthanasia and cloning, although neither can be practised legally in the UK.

The move over abortion was criticised by pro-choice group Abortion Rights which said members of the estate clearly wanted to impose their beliefs on others.

Director Anne Quesney said the decision demonstrated that women's "reproductive rights" remained under threat.

"The Howard de Walden Estate's decision to prevent abortions from taking place in Harley Street is reminiscent of the situation in the US where abortion clinics are being driven underground, closed down or attacked.

"There, the anti-choice lobby's tactics have severely impacted on women's access to abortion - driving women to desperate measures.

"That is not a situation we should emulate in Britain where the overwhelming majority of the general public support women's right to make her own abortion decision - one that no woman takes lightly."

But Julia Millington, of the Prolife Alliance, which is against abortions, said: "We congratulate Howard de Walden on their stand.

"If a woman is in need of emergency intervention in a life and death situation she would go to an NHS hospitals so it is not about putting women at risk."


The Harley Street medical district is made up of Harley Street, Devonshire Place, Upper Wimpole Street and Wimpole Street in London.

More than 3,000 medical staff are employed in the area which includes private hospitals such as the London Clinic, the Harley Street Clinic and King Edward VII.

Harley Street is synonymous with private health care in the UK and has become increasingly known for its cosmetic surgery clinics.

The Howard de Walden Estate receives an annual rental income of 47m from 92 acres of real estate in Marylebone.

Mr Baynham discussed the future of Harley Street in a wide-ranging interview with Estates Gazette.

He said: "The tabloid press loves to knock Harley Street. Most of the criticism is levelled at the cosmetic side of it.

"But if you look at Harley Street, the vast majority of what goes on is serious medicine.

"Maybe we are oversensitive about image but, as a landlord, image is important to us."

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