Precious Life welcome German Court Ruling that Pro-Life People Have a Right to Pray Outside Abortion Businesses

Precious Life have welcomed a court ruling in Germany that said silent prayer vigils outside abortion centres cannot be prohibited.

Precious Life are hoping for a similar ruling by the UK Supreme court on a Bill passed by pro-abortion MLAs in the Northern Ireland Assembly who want to prohibit silent prayer vigils outside abortion centres and criminalise women and man who participates in such vigils. [See: Supreme Court to decide on Right to hold Pro-Life Vigils in Northern Ireland]

The case in German came after the '40 Days for Life' group had been banned from gathering to pray in silence near an abortion facility since February 2019.

Last year, a lower German court held that the ban was permissible. On appeal, however, it was decided that unfounded allegations are not sufficient to restrict the pro-life group’s freedom of assembly and expression. 

“Every human life is valuable and deserves protection. I am heartened that we will be able to resume our prayer vigils in support of women and their unborn children in the place where we think it makes the most sense. It is a great relief that the court has recognized our fundamental freedoms,” said Pavica Vojnovic, who with the support of human rights organization, ADF International, brought the appeal in defence of the fundamental rights to freedom of religion, expression, and assembly.

The court emphasized: “In this context, the special significance of the freedom of assembly … must be taken into account, which, like the freedom to collectively express one’s opinion, also and above all benefits dissenting minorities, is necessary for a free democratic state order and in particular includes the right of self-determination over the conduct of the assembly …, the selection of the place and the determination of the other modalities of the assembly.”

“We welcome the court’s judgment, which reaffirms freedom of assembly and other fundamental freedoms as the foundation of a free democracy. This is a clear victory not just for 40 Days for Life, but also for all concerned with the protection of fundamental human rights. The German people have the right to peaceful assembly and expression, including silent prayer, on their public streets,” said Lidia Rieder, legal officer for ADF International, who has supported Vojnovic’s case.

“The silencing of pro-life expression, including prayer, is a reoccurring issue across Europe. When the government starts prohibiting silent prayer in certain places, we enter the business of policing thought crimes — a frightening proposition for all. It is imperative that we diligently uphold our fundamental freedoms in public spaces, standing against attempts to undermine peaceful assembly and the expression of one’s convictions,” said Felix Böllmann, senior counsel for ADF International.

The UK Supreme Court is currently deciding on the legality of the “Abortion Zones Bill” passed by pro-abortion MLAs in the NI Assembly.

The judges will decide if the Bill interferes with the rights of persons who wish to express their opposition to abortion in Northern Ireland. These rights are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. These include the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association guaranteed by Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Convention.

Pro-abortion Green Party former Leader Clare Bailey introduced the Bill in the Assembly to set up so-called "safe access" zones at centres where abortions are carried out. It was passed by the Assembly in March 2022 with votes from pro-abortionists in Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance UUP, Green Party and PBP.

This draconian and oppressive Bill criminalises women and men who pray outside abortion centres. The Bill makes it a CRIME to DO ANYTHING outside an abortion centre which might “influence” a person.

Holding a sign; distributing information leaflets; talking to a woman to offer her help, or simply praying silently outside an abortion centre will be '...punishable on conviction by fines' up to £2500.

The UK Supreme Court judgement is expected to be delivered before the end of the year.

Spokesperson for Precious Life Bernadette Smyth said, "We welcome the German Court decision to uphold people’s rights to free speech and freedom of assembly.

"We hope the UK Supreme Court will also uphold these rights. The outcome of this case will affect the right to free speech not only of pro-life people in Northern Ireland, but the right to free speech of ALL people across the UK.

"If 'Abortion Zones' are allowed to become law in Northern Ireland, this will be used to ban all pro-life presence outside abortion centres across the UK. And if pro-life vigils can be banned, then any public speech, assembly or protest can also be banned.

"Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, assembly and association are fundamental human rights, and must be upheld.”

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