An MP has urged police to investigate after a US anti-abortion group posted huge billboards showing foetuses in the womb around her London constituency.
Labour’s Stella Creasy previously put forward an amendment in Parliament to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK where it remains illegal.
In an apparent response to her campaigning, an American group called the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBRUK) posted billboards showing a foetus, said to be at nine weeks gestation.
Ms Creasy has accused the group of harassing women in her constituency of Walthamstow, east London. She also hit out at the advertising firm cashing in on the posters and is demanding the Met Police investigate.
US anti-abortion group CBRUK have been posting this billboard around east London in an apparent bid to target campaigning MP Stella Creasy
The billboards are apparently in response to Ms Creasy’s campaign to extend abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland. The US group claim she is ‘promoting human rights abuses of children in the womb’
The MP, who is heavily pregnant and has suffered miscarriages in the past, slammed the CEO of billboard advertising firm Clear Channel in tweets today.
She tweeted: ‘Twitter – can you get me the CEO of @CCUK_Direct advertising? How much did you get for this c**p? @Metpoliceuk, still think this is just ‘free speech’ and not harassment of women in Walthamstow? Am sorry for the graphic images and @patel4witham am reaching out to you for help now.’
Ms Creasy later tweeted two men, Richard Bon and Martin Corke, who she believes are executives in the advertising firm.
Clear Channel then removed the campaign and it is also thought angry locals had painted over some of the billboards
Experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have also questioned the content of the posters, suggesting the foetus pictured looks more like it is at 12 weeks gestation.
A post on the CBR UK website says the Stop Stella Campaign is ‘calling upon Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, to stop promoting human rights abuses of children in the womb.’
‘We are saturating Walthamstow, MP Stella Creasy’s constituency, with the humanity of the unborn child and the reality of abortion,’ it adds.
‘Whilst highlighting to constituents how their MP is working hard to promote abortion as a “human right”.
‘We are highlighting the humanity of the unborn child on billboards and advertising kiosks around Walthamstow.’
In a tweet (pictured) Labour MP Stella Creasy accused Metropolitan police of turning a blind eye to an anti-abortion group that targeted her in a campaign over the weekend
Clear Channel, the advertising firm who run billboard in London, later apologised
But Ms Creasy demanded they make a payment to Abortion Support by way of redress
What is the campaign group CBRUK?
The CBRUK tagline is ‘challenging views on abortion’ and its current work includes the #StopStella campaign, teaching schoolchildren to ‘value life at all stages’, and training advocates to campaign for pro-life.
The group, led by CEO Andy Stephenson, a Christian who was found not guilty of intimidating women outside a Brighton abortion clinic in 2012 with group Abort67, aims to stop women getting abortions by showing them images of living foetus’.
CBRUK’s CEO Andy Stephenson
Its Twitter account @cbruk is currently disabled because ‘it violates the Twitter Media Policy’.
Founder Stephenson, a father-of three and committed evangelical Christian, was the director of anti-abortion group Abort67 when it started in 2012.
He has previously said: ‘The atmosphere in the UK is changing.
‘There is a new generation of pro-lifers emerging and disillusioned, battle-weary pro-lifers being reinvigorated because they have seen the fruits of what groups like ours are achieving with very little resources.’
The CBRUK website also calls Ms Creasy a ‘hypocrite’ for being pregnant and supporting women who choose an abortion.
It says: ‘Stella Creasy deliberately conceals in all her public statements and dialogue on abortion – the humanity of the unborn child and what an abortion procedure actually entails.
‘Yet when she is speaking about her own baby in her womb, and her previous miscarriages, she speaks openly on their humanity.’
It goes on to quote Ms Creasy speaking about her miscarriage, saying: ‘I tried not to think about the fact my baby had died inside me’ and ‘I can’t even protect my own child.’
The poster blows up a picture of a 5cm-long foetus with fully formed fingers and toes so it expands the length of two-metre long board on the side of a busy road.
Twitter users were quick to jump to Ms Creasy’s defence and called on Met Police to intervene.
Theresa Musgrove commented: ‘Whatever the circumstances, & clearly @metpoliceuk should act here – I think you should remember that images like that are also very upsetting to anyone who has suffered a miscarriage: really not appropriate either to put in public or on twitter.’
Rosie Duffield MP tweeted: This is offensive and it is harassment. Our laws ensure women have full autonomy over their bodies and theirs is the right to choose.
Another tweet read: ‘This is not what a foetus looks like at nine weeks and is extremely misleading.
‘I assume deliberately so. For example, a nine week old foetus does not have fully formed fingers and toes (it doesn’t even really have feet) and does not yet have a human shaped’ separate head and neck.’
The poster, which is ‘on billboards and advertising kiosks around Walthamstow’, according to the campaign group, shows a 5cm foetus with fully formed fingers
Sarah Crook added: This is horrendous. An attack on women and a swipe at you. Solidarity, Stella – thank you for all you do for women’s rights.’
Thomas Kohurt added: ‘Saw this on the way to Wood Street this morning outside the bakery where so many families stop – amazed and saddened that it got through @CCUK_Direct. Know that your constituents are behind you on this.’
Others, including Heather in Cornwall, saw no issue with the billboards. She tweeted: ‘There is nothing wrong with educating women about what is inside them.
‘Many, if they saw an ultrasound of the baby, would not even consider an abortion.’
Commenters were quick to jump to Ms Creasy’s defence as Theresa Musgrove called for Met Police to stop women who have suffered a miscarriage from suffering
Others, including Heather in Cornwall, saw no issue with the billboards. She tweeted: ‘There is nothing wrong with educating women about what is inside them’
A Clear Channel spokesperson confirmed the company were ‘taking immediate action to remove this campaign.’
They added: ‘We sincerely apologise for any offence that has been caused by a recent campaign which we ran in Walthamstow on behalf of a customer.
‘As an Out-of-Home media owner, we take a neutral stance towards all advertising and have robust procedures in place to ensure that the creatives we run comply with the UK Advertising Codes.
‘While this campaign met these requirements, we accept that the content should have been scrutinised in greater detail and should not have been displayed.
‘We are reviewing the internal processes we have in place regarding the campaigns and content we run, to prevent an issue like this from happening again.’
CBRUK disagree with overturning sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act, which would give women the right to choose whether to have an abortion.
Earlier today Stella Creasy MP tweeted: ‘Twitter-can you get me the CEO of @CCUK_Direct advertising? how much did you get for this crap?’
And while a spokesman for Metropolitan Police repeated a previous statement about Saturday’s protest, the force refused to comment on the billboards.
A spokesman said: ‘Police attended a small, planned protest consisting of a number of individuals at Walthamstow town centre on Saturday 28 September.
‘Officers listened to concerns about the content of parts of the protest but no criminal offences were committed or disclosed.
‘There were no arrests. The protest concluded peacefully.
‘Regarding the use of public spaces protection order, this power is not aimed to prevent lawful protest, but can be used to deter persistent unreasonable anti-social behaviour that is to the detriment of the community.’
And in response to a comment given to the Guardian saying the force had not received any complaints about the protesters’ use of posters Ms Creasey tweeted: ‘I am gobsmacked @metpoliceUK.
‘Not only did I directly speak to officers to warn them in in advance of this plan to harass and agree action last night, residents in Walthamstow also made complaints today as did I. Your claim to the @guardian is at best wrong and at worst …’
CBR UK have been approached by MailOnline for comment.