Charges dropped against woman praying in front of UK abortion clinic
Authorities in the U.K. have dropped charges against a woman arrested for silent prayer in a “buffer zone” that bans pro-life advocacy outside an English abortion clinic.
However, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce says the charges still could be revived, leaving her in an ambitious legal situation.
“It can’t be right that I was arrested and made a criminal, only for praying in my head on a public street,”
Vaughan-Spruce said in a Feb. 3 statement.
“So-called ‘buffer zone legislation’ will result in so many more people like me, doing good and legal activities like offering charitable support to women in crisis pregnancies, or simply praying in their heads, being treated like criminals and even facing court,” she added.
Vaughan-Spruce was arrested on December 6, 2022, in Birmingham, England, outside an abortion facility that was closed at the time.
Video footage of her arrest shows an officer asking her if she was praying, to which she answers:
“I might be praying in my head.”
She was charged on Dec. 15 with four counts of breaking Birmingham’s Public Space Protection Order around the abortion facility. The order is intended to stop antisocial behaviour. The terms of the order include prayer under “protest,” which is banned within the “buffer zone” around the clinic. For standing still and praying silently inside a buffer zone, she was accused of “protesting and engaging in an act that is intimidating to service users.”
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