Precious Life encouraged by Home Secretary statement on right to pray at abortion centres
Precious Life’s legal team is studying a statement from the Home Secretary and how it will affect people who pray outside abortion centres in Northern Ireland.
“Censorship zones” outside baby-killing centres are due to be enforced here this month (September). The law to create these zones was instigated by abortion extremists colluding with pro-abortion parties - Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance, UUP, PBP and Green Party - to criminalise women and men who pray outside abortion centres.
The purpose of this broad and sweeping law is to makes it “a crime to do anything” within 250 metres of an abortion centre that “might influence a person” in their decision to attend.
Since the law was passed, Precious Life has continued their Prayer Vigils outside the abortion centres, offering practical help and loving support to women attending.
In a public letter to police forces across England and Wales, the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman has clarified that silent prayer is legal.
She reminded police officers that “holding lawful opinions, even if those opinions may offend others, is not a criminal offence.”
She said, “[policing] includes a requirement to preserve all rights, including the right to free speech.”
She added that “silent prayer, in itself, is not unlawful”.
Within the past 12 months, three individuals have been prosecuted for praying silently in their heads near abortion facilities in England.
All stopped to pray, imperceptibly in their minds, within censorship zones or “buffer zones” imposed by local councils in Birmingham and Bournemouth.
Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, who was seen being arrested on a viral video last Winter after admitting to police that she “might be” praying in her head, was criminally charged and tried in court in March. She was found “not guilty”, but promptly re-arrested for thinking prayerful thoughts in the same location weeks later.
A father and Afghanistan Veteran is also awaiting justice, having entered a “not guilty” plea at Poole Magistrates Court in August. Adam Smith-Connor was approached by local council officials and asked “the nature of his prayer” when he was found praying on the street near the Bournemouth abortion facility. The army veteran prayed with his back to the clinic to avoid any impression that he was there to approach any women accessing the facility. He told officers that he was praying about his own experience of abortion, in which he had lost his son. The resulting fixed penalty notice detailed that Smith-Connor was fined, and subsequently charged, for “praying for his deceased son”. He awaits criminal trial at Poole Magistrates’ Court in 16th November.
Father Sean Gough, a Birmingham priest, was also criminally tried for silently praying in the Birmingham censorship zone or “buffer zone”. The priest, who has been involved in supporting a counselling ministry for post-abortive women, was also charged for praying for freedom of speech and having a small bumper sticker affixed to his car within the zone, reading “unborn lives matter”. With support from the legal organisation ADF UK, he was found innocent in court in February.
Precious Life will remind police officers of the Home Secretary's statement if any attempts are made to stop lawful silent prayer outside abortion centres in Northern Ireland.