A 120,000-signature petition calling for exclusion zones around abortion clinics was handed to the Government by a Swindon woman today.

Erika Garratt, 35, who has led the Back Off campaign, was at 10 Downing Street to hand over the petition, supported by human rights groups.

Back Off wants the Government to introduce the ‘buffer zones’ at the clinics to stop people from protesting in those areas.

“Having an abortion can be an extremely emotional time for a woman,” said Erika, who lives in Swindon town centre.

"I respect the protesters’ right to disagree with abortion, but they must respect women’s right to privacy too.

“In my eyes these protests are a subtle form of violence against women and an attempt to stop women being able to make choices about their own bodies and their lives.

“I hope the Government will respond and we can make a change. I know this will not be an instant thing but there is certainly enough support to see it go forward.”

The exclusion areas already exist around clinics in France, Canada and the United States.

In November 2014 Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP called on the Government to consult on a range of measures to prevent patients and health care staff being harassed at abortion clinics. However, the Home Office has yet to reply to requests for action.

Dr Clare Gerada, former chairman of Royal College of General Practitioners, has backed the campaign.

She said: “Politicians must take immediate action to stop the harassment of women who are seeking services from abortion clinics. Women have a right to safe health care.

“The bullying and intimidation displayed by anti-abortion protesters outside clinics is inhumane. The Government must act now to introduce legislation to allow women safe passage when they are trying to access services.”

Erika added: “I’m so grateful to all the people who have supported the petition. In particular, I’d like to thank Change.org and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.”