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Meet the charity volunteer arrested and charged for a silent prayer “thought crime” near an abortion facility.
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Meet the charity worker arrested and charged on four counts for silent prayer “thought crime” near an abortion facility.
In November 2022, Police approached Isabel Vaughan-Spruce standing near the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham.
Vaughan-Spruce was not protesting. She wasn’t carrying a sign or engaging with anyone. She was completely silent, until approached by officers who had received complaints that she may be praying silently in her mind.
While harassment is already illegal, the censorship zone measure introduced by Birmingham authorities criminalises individuals perceived to be “engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval” in relation to abortion, including through “verbal or written means, prayer or counselling…”
Isabel’s physical presence in the public space protection order (PSPO) area wasn’t a crime in itself; it was the contents of her private thoughts that were prohibited. If Isabel had stood in the same place thinking about another topic, she would not have been arrested.
Isabel is currently out on bail, with police-imposed restrictions including engaging in public prayer, even beyond the PSPO area, stating that this is necessary to prevent further offences.
Isabel is the Director of the UK March for Life and has volunteered for many years in support of women in crisis pregnancies. She has tirelessly served her community by providing charitable assistance to vulnerable women and children, and yet, she is being treated no better than a violent criminal because of her private thoughts.
Whether it be for sharing deeply held beliefs relating to matters of ethical, political or religious debate, our public order laws have been too often used to falsely arrest or threaten arrest people for their expression in the streets. We believe that the law needs reform so that a reasonable balance is struck between upholding the right to freedom of expression and maintining public order.
By writing to your Member of Parliament, you ask him to sign a Freedom of Speech motion in Parliament. The more signatures the motion obtains, the stronger the message for Government.
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