Kuljit Bhogal KC writes comment article for The Times on safe access zones at abortion clinics  

15 Feb 2024

Public Law and Judicial Review, Local Government


The Times


Thursday, 15 February 2024

In a powerful comment article published in The Times, Kuljit Bhogal KC addresses the UK’s approach to protests outside abortion clinics. Kuljit, who notably acted in the Court of Appeal case upholding the UK’s first abortion clinic buffer zone, highlights significant issues with the draft guidance on implementing safe access zones around abortion facilities.

Despite legislation passed last year aimed at prohibiting protests directly outside abortion clinics to protect patients, the proposed guidance, according to Kuljit, fails to grasp the actual impact of the protests. The legislation intended to create “buffer zones” to safeguard women accessing healthcare from harassment and intimidation by protesters. However, Kuljit argues that the draft guidance undermines these efforts by misinterpreting the nature of the protests and potentially allowing actions that could distress those seeking medical services.

Kuljit points out three key areas where the draft contradicts the legislation’s intent: the treatment of silent prayer as non-offensive, the allowance of a “motionless presence,” and the problematic notion of “consensual” engagement between protesters and clinic visitors. These points, Kuljit asserts, go against the express will of parliament and the evidence of harm caused by protests.

The barrister calls for a more nuanced approach that considers the specific facts of each case, urging that anti-abortion views be expressed through parliamentary lobbying rather than targeting women and girls at clinics.

Kuljit’s commentary shines a light on the complexities of balancing free speech and the right to access healthcare without fear of harassment, contributing to the ongoing debate on how the UK navigates protests outside abortion facilities.

About Kuljit

Kuljit Bhogal KC has a broad practice with particular specialisms in local government, public law and judicial review, housing, and the Court of Protection. In March 2023, she was appointed King’s Counsel. Kuljit is ranked by Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 for Social Housing Law and Public Law.

In her public sector work, she acts predominantly for local authorities, housing associations and health bodies. In her private sector work, Kuljit acts for private landlords and developers.

Her local authority experience goes back over 21 years and she is able to advise on the full range of local authority functions.

She has an excellent understanding of the pressures faced by public bodies and is well able to service their needs. She is able to provide policy and strategic advice at the most senior levels.

Learn more about Kuljit’s practice here.