Pro-life activist arrested for silent prayer near abortion facility

According to a report by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) UK, a charity volunteer was arrested after telling police she “might” be praying silently when she asked why she was on a public road near an abortion facility stand.

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, director of the UK March for Life, was standing near the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham, in what ADF UK describes as a “censorship zone” when police approached them after a Bystanders had complained that they could pray outside the abortion facility, the report said. Birmingham authorities have created a buffer zone around abortion clinics, making it illegal for a person to engage in any act or attempted act of consent or disapproval where abortion is involved, and excludes “oral or written means” such as “prayer or advice”.

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“It is terribly wrong that I was searched, arrested, questioned by the police and charged simply because I prayed in the privacy of my own mind,” Vaughan-Spruce said after her arrest. “I have exercised my freedom of thought, my freedom of religion, in the privacy of my own mind. Nobody should be criminalized for thinking and praying in a public place in Britain.”

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce (Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom UK)

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce (Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom UK)
((Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom UK))

“My faith is a central part of who I am, so sometimes I stand or walk near an abortion facility and pray about this issue,” she added. “It’s something I’ve done pretty much every week for the last 20 years of my life. I pray for my friends who have experienced abortions and for the women who are considering going through it themselves.”

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Pro-life activists march during the 49th annual March for Life rally down the National Mall on January 21, 2022 in Washington, DC.  The rally draws activists from across the country who are calling on the US Supreme Court to reverse the Roe v.  Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.

Pro-life activists march during the 49th annual March for Life rally down the National Mall on January 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. The rally draws activists from across the country who are calling on the US Supreme Court to reverse the Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.
(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Vaughan-Spruce stood near the abortion facility three times while it was closed and said she “possibly” prayed, according to ADF UK. Police showed her photos of herself standing in front of the facility and asked if she was praying, which she was unable to answer as she spent some time praying but other times was distracted.

“It is truly astounding that the law gives local authorities such vast and inexplicable discretion that even thought deemed ‘wrong’ can now result in a humiliating arrest and criminal indictment,” agrees Jeremiah Igunnubole, Legal Counsel, ADF UK Vaughan – Spruce said. “A responsible democracy should be able to distinguish between criminal behavior and the peaceful exercise of constitutionally protected rights.”

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He described Vaughan-Spruce as a woman of “good character… who served her community tirelessly” through her charitable work on behalf of women and children, but said she was “treated no better than a violent criminal.”

Pro-life activists are reacting to the landmark Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade.

Pro-life activists are reacting to the landmark Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade.
(Fox News Digital)

“We are in serious danger of mindlessly sleepwalking into a society that accepts, normalizes and even encourages the ‘tyranny of the majority,'” Igunnubole added.

As part of their terms of release, police prohibited Vaughan-Spruce from praying publicly in areas other than the abortion facility, according to ADF.

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Parliamentarians in the UK are considering legislation to introduce similar censorship zones in other parts of England and Wales, which would prevent pro-life volunteers from interfering with the ability to “access, provide or facilitate the provision of abortion services”.

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