Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has expressed dismay at efforts to ban pro-life vigils outside an abortion clinic in his diocese.

The bishop said a recent decision by Portsmouth City Council was part of “ever more draconian restrictions” on freedom of religious expression.

The council voted 33-1 to do “all within its powers” to prevent pro-life vigils outside an abortion clinic in Milton, Portsmouth. It follows a similar step by Ealing council in west London and comes as pro-abortion politicians heap pressure on the Government to impose “buffer zones” outside all abortion clinics.

Last week Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor of London, became the latest high-profile figure to back a crackdown on pro-life vigils, adding his voice to that of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, and Vince Cable, the leader of the Lib Dems.

Last month Bishop Egan attended the vigil that Portsmouth councillors are seeking to criminalise. At the time he tweeted: “Please pray for the brave participants and for an end to abortion.”

Responding to the council vote, Bishop Egan said: “I am personally very sorry about this. The Portsmouth 40 Days for Life was a peaceful witness in which we offered prayers for the unborn, for mothers facing difficult choices, for medical staff, for families and for a change to the abortion law. We will have to continue this now in other forms.

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