A British pro-life activist is facing criminal charges for silently praying outside an abortion clinic in Birmingham. Isabel Vaughn-Spruce, the director of March for Life UK, was arrested outside the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham, on Dec. 6. Last Thursday, she was charged with four counts of violating a Public Space Protection Order.
According to ADF International, a legal nonprofit handling her case, authorities were tipped off by an onlooker who said Vaughn-Spruce was outside the clinic on three occasions while it was closed. Vaughn-Spruce wasn’t carrying any signs or placards.
At the police station, law enforcement officials presented Vaughn-Spruce with pictures of herself outside the abortion clinic and inquired whether she was praying. She responded by asserting that while she “might” have been praying in some of the pictures, she also could have been thinking about other topics, such as her lunch.
Under the initial terms of her release, the pro-life advocate was told she couldn’t contact a local Catholic priest involved in pro-life ministry. However, that particular condition was later dropped. A requirement imposed on Vaughn-Spruce restricting her from engaging in pro-life activism and prayer in an area that extends beyond the so-called “buffer zone” surrounding the abortion clinic remains in place.
“It’s abhorrently wrong that I was searched, arrested, interrogated by police, and charged simply for praying in the privacy of my own mind,” Vaughn-Spruce said in a statement.
“Censorship zones purport to ban harassment, which is already illegal. Nobody should ever be subject to harassment. But what I did was the furthest thing from harmful — I was exercising my freedom of thought, my freedom of religion, inside the privacy of my own mind.” The activist contends that “nobody should be criminalized for thinking and for praying in a public space in the U.K.”
The Public Space Protection Order prohibits “protesting, namely engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means,” including “graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counseling” outside the abortion clinic.
The order, authorized on Sept. 7, applies to an area extending from one block west of the abortion clinic to two blocks east of the facility as well as one block to its south. It states that violators could be subject to a fine. (SOURCE)