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Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 00:03 GMT 01:03 UK
Abortion militants head for England
The group's tactics have been attacked
A direct action anti-abortion group is taking its campaign to England for the first time.

The controversial Precious Life group, currently based in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, is planning to launch campaigns in Liverpool and London from next month.

We don't want a discussion with these people, we just want to shut them down

Jim Dowson, Precious Life
Members intend to stage pickets outside hospitals and abortion clinics as well as protests outside the homes of doctors carrying out terminations.

The names of doctors who perform abortions will be made public in the group's newsletters and publicity material.

Campaigners will also hand out graphic photographs of terminations to women entering the clinics in a bid to force them to change their minds.

Women in Belfast and Scotland have complained of being harassed, verbally attacked and intimidated as they try to enter clinics and hospitals.

And the militant actions of Precious Life has drawn condemnation from the leader of Scotland's Catholics, Cardinal Thomas Winning, and American activists who fear the group has gone too far.

Jim Dowson
Jim Dowson: Starting to establish groups
Jim Dowson, a leading member of Precious Life, said: "We have around 400 members in England and we will be activating groups from next month

"We will picket hospitals and clinics and publish the names of doctors involved in this trade.

"They make a lifestyle choice to murder babies so we have a choice to expose them to their neighbours and publicise what they do for a living."

He added: "We have succeeded in shutting down clinics in Scotland and Ireland and that's what we want to do in England.

"We don't want a discussion with these people, we just want to shut them down."

A spokeswoman for the charity Brook, which campaigns on sexual health issues for young people, said: "Anti-abortion groups have a right to their opinions and a right to express their opinions, but if they harass our staff or our clients that is unacceptable and we will act.

"We have always found Precious Life's tactics to be fairly ineffective. When they have picketed clinics, those clinics have seen more women coming to them because they know where they are."

Meanwhile, education chiefs in Edinburgh have threatened to take legal action against Precious Life members if they hand out graphically descriptive leaflets to school pupils.

So far activists have been targeting secondary schools in central Scotland, but education chiefs in Edinburgh say they will immediately report any Precious Life activists found at a school gate to the police.

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See also:

07 Feb 00 | Health
Women 'denied abortion choice'
20 Nov 99 | Scotland
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27 Oct 99 | Scotland
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19 Jun 00 | Scotland
Anti-abortion group legal threat
06 Dec 99 | Scotland
Anti-abortionist resigns from job
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