PRO-CHOICE campaigners demonstrated outside a city centre church as worshippers attended Mass on Sunday.

They were responding to the 40-day demonstration outside an York abortion clinic by anti-abortionists that began at the beginning of this month.

Members of the pro-choice group handed out leaflets and displayed placards outside St Wilfrid’s RC Church in Duncombe Place.

Their three-and-a-half-hour protest was timed to coincide with the church’s two Sunday morning Masses, one in English and one in Latin.

They were not trying to stop worshippers entering the church and parishioners were able to attend services.

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It was the second weekend in a row the pro-choice group had held their demonstration, which was socially distanced.

St Wilfrid’s was chosen for the demonstration because the pro-life group is headed by Catholics from the church.

Together with people who worship at other churches, they are holding a 40-day socially distanced prayer vigil outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) clinic in Wenlock Terrace off Fulford Road.

Not everyone who attends services at St Wilfrid’s is part of the vigil.

BPAS has condemned the prayer vigil outside the York clinic, which is closed because of the coronavirus.

Residents in the street, with supporters, have held a counter-demonstration outside the clinic and leaflets opposing the prayer vigil have been distributed to local houses.

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition urging City of York Council to establish a “safe zone” around the clinic to prevent future prayer vigils outside the clinic.

They want the council to “ protect our communities from fear and intimidation”.

Those opposed to the prayer vigil say that the clinic is a legal healthcare facility and women are entitled to attend it without feeling intimidated by the presence of those opposed to the clinic.

The prayer vigil is one of many across the UK and USA taking place outside abortion clinics.

Those taking part claim they are saving lives and reducing the number of abortions.