ABORTION ZONES - Praying is now a criminal offence

Precious Life has condemned the introduction of “exclusion zones” at abortion centres in Northern Ireland (29th September 2023.)

The zones criminalise women and men who pray within 250 metres of an abortion centre.

Director of Precious Life Bernadette Smyth said, “These zones have serious implication for the rights to free speech and assembly of ALL people. If pro-life prayer vigils can be banned and criminalised, then public speech, assembly or protest on any other issue can also be banned and criminalised. Free speech denied anywhere is a threat to free speech everywhere”

She added, “We are urging people in Northern Ireland to lobby their MPs to seek clarity from the UK Home Secretary that prayer in any public space is still legal.

In a letter to police forces in England and Wales this month, the Home Secretary Suella Braverman said silent prayer is not unlawful. She reminded police officers that “holding lawful opinions, even if those opinions may offend others, is not a criminal offence” and said, “[policing] includes a requirement to preserve all rights, including the right to free speech.” She added, “silent prayer, in itself, is not unlawful”.

Bernadette Smyth said, “We are calling on our MPs to demand that citizens of Northern Ireland have the same right to pray as citizens in the rest of the UK.”

She concluded, "In a humane society, the safest place for a baby should be their mother’s womb. Precious Life will work to create ‘safe zones’ for all unborn babies and their mothers throughout Northern Ireland. We will not be deterred by these draconian exclusion zones. We will redouble our efforts in our public awareness campaigns to expose the horrific reality of what abortion does to an innocent baby in the womb, and the physical and emotional harm that abortion causes women."

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