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UK Woman Arrested for Silently Praying

National

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was arrested for silently praying in front of an abortion clinic. | Image by RT.

A British woman was arrested last month for reportedly standing outside an abortion clinic while praying silently to herself.

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, an anti-abortion activist and director of the United Kingdom March for Life, was arrested on camera after being briefly interrogated by police in Birmingham, England.

The incident has sparked vigorous debate in the UK and worldwide over free speech concerns and the “buffer zones” being established around abortion clinics.

Video footage shows Vaughan-Spruce, 45, standing on a sidewalk with her hands in her jacket while three officers approached her.

“What are you here for today?” one of the officers asked Vaughan-Spruce.

“Physically, I am just standing here,” she replied.

“Why here, of all places?” the officer pressed.

Vaughan-Spruce then said she was standing there because it was in front of an “abortion center.”

“Is standing here part of the protest?” the officer asked. Vaughan-Spruce replied that she was not protesting at all.

“Are you praying?” the officer asked. Vaughan-Spruce then admitted that she “may be praying in [her] head.”

The officer then asked her to “voluntarily” come to the police station, to which Vaughan-Spruce said that, if she had a choice, her answer was “No.”

“Okay, then you are under arrest on suspicion of failing to comply with Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO),” the officer remarked.

In an interview with Tucker Carlson, Vaughan-Spruce said that she has prayed outside of abortion clinics for 20 years. However, in September 2022, the local government of Birmingham instituted a “censorship zone” around the abortion clinic.

The so-called “censorship zone” prohibits protesting, which includes prayer and counseling in its definition.

“Four times, I went and stood near the closed abortion center and silently prayed there,” Vaughan-Spruce explained in the interview. “And as you can see, the police came and asked me if I was protesting, which I wasn’t.”

“They asked me if I was praying, and I said I might be silently praying. I was arrested,” she concluded.

Vaughan-Spruce then recounted how she was formally arrested, searched, and interrogated by police. The subjects of their questions allegedly included the contents of her silent prayers.

She was later released on bail with a court date in February 2023 to face four counts of “protesting and engaging in an act intimidating of service users.”

Carlson called arresting someone for the act of silently praying “an act of evil.”

An online petition supporting Vaughan-Spruce titled “Prayer is not thought crime” has already garnered nearly 50,000 signatures.

An aide to the late former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Nile Gardiner, tweeted about the incident, “This is appalling.”

He continued, saying it is “[d]isgraceful to see a woman arrested for simply praying on a British street. This should not be happening under a Conservative Govt, and action should be taken by the Home Secretary to ensure that scenes like this are not repeated.”

In a statement to The Epoch Times, a police spokesman said, “The PSPO creates a zone around a specific facility to protect women from harassment by any means if they are seeking a medical procedure or advice at an abortion clinic.”

Such “buffer zones” around abortion clinics, intended to keep anti-abortion demonstrators away, are becoming more common in the United Kingdom.

A bill to create these buffer zones across England and Wales was passed by the House of Commons in October and is well on its way to becoming law. If the bill passes through the remaining stages of the legislative process, any anti-abortion demonstrator found within 150 meters of an abortion clinic could face up to six months in jail.

Currently, buffer zones like the one Vaughan-Spruce is accused of violating are established on a case-by-case basis by local authorities.

“The PSPO protecting the area around Robert Clinic focuses on ensuring people visiting and working there have clear access without fear of confrontation. Any local authority seeking to implement a PSPO must have robust evidence for its introduction, which guides the conditions and location – this includes concerns and complaints received from the community,” stated a Birmingham City Council spokesperson when the order was approved.

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Wrath
Wrath
25 days ago

“Thought crimes”…this is the path the woke progressives are leading us.

Janet
Janet
Reply to  Wrath
25 days ago

Weren’t you one of those who said of Britney Griner-” She knew the law and violated it. She did the crime, now she needs to do the time”? Same applies here. Being a “woke progressive” has nothing to do with it.

Nancy
Nancy
Reply to  Janet
24 days ago

How you can equate the two is beyond ridiculous. If you can be arrested for what you are THINKING! let alone SAYING! goes against the mist precious freedom we have. You and every other human should be quivering in their shoes over this arrest. And the UK us headed down a path to totalitarianism and so are we.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Nancy
23 days ago

Not all. The UK has a law that you can’t essentially loiter in front of an abortion clinic. The criminal did just that and was arrested. Case closed. Like Griner, this woman broke the law and both were arrested for breaking the law. The fact that you don’t see the correlation tells me that you are uneducated.

will
will
25 days ago

Seems pretty clear to me that she was arrested for being in the buffer zone. Also seems pretty clear that she knew exactly what she was doing. And, given the history of conflict and emotionality around the subject, it seems reasonable to me to have buffer zones. So, stand outside of the buffer zone and pray all you want.

William Danielson
William Danielson
Reply to  will
25 days ago

HIP HIP HURRAY!

Mary
Mary
25 days ago

I wonder how long our freedoms will last here in America.

William Danielson
William Danielson
Reply to  Mary
25 days ago

You mean to have an abortion, right?

David
David
Reply to  William Danielson
25 days ago

You can have an abortion in every state of our Nation. Just follow the correct procedures and you can do just about anything you chose to do in the USA.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  David
24 days ago

You can only get one in Texas if the mother has a life-threatening medical emergency. There isn’t a “correct procedure” for that.

Janet
Janet
Reply to  Mary
25 days ago

Until the next J6 style of insurrection, if it succeeds.

Roby
Roby
25 days ago

If there is a buffer zone she should not have been there. She was legally arrested.

Pap
Pap
Reply to  Roby
25 days ago

They should have just simply asked her to move along. THEN if she didn’t comply with their instruction, they would have just cause. But that would require common sense. What if someone was praying for the protection of the clinic? What say you then, eh?

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Pap
25 days ago

I love you come on here and claim that Dallas doesn’t prosecute crimes or criminals, but now want to give a pass to a woman breaking the law. Nice contradiction though. The law is the law and doesn’t specify what the prayer is about. The buffer zone is there to keep it the clinic easy to access.

Pap
Pap
25 days ago

They probably do nothing about the rapists, thieves and murderers in their country but come down on someone silently praying. Aren’t they the tough guys. They should have just told her to move it along. Then if she didn’t do as they asked, then they would have reason. There is a sidewalk there, so I’m sure people walk past it daily. Asking her what were her prayers is absolutely none of their business and beyond invasive. That’s between her and God. Saying that praying is an act of protest is absurd and venturing onto dangerous grounds. The world has gone nuts.

Ronald Reason
Ronald Reason
Reply to  Pap
25 days ago

You’re right; nuts! This is a publicity stunt reported by bias media (DX news) that omits relevant information which only serves to get people worked up; such as, the story’s failure to mention that it’s a recent City order, and that Isabel is the director of the anti-abortion group, “March for Life UK”, and is probably out testing the limits of that order. Pay the fine; stop harassing the patrons. It’s the Law.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Pap
25 days ago

The law is the law. And that law is meant to keep nut jobs away from clinics so people can seek the medical care they wish to receive.

Stop making exceptions for someone that aligns with your point of view when you never make exceptions for any crime here in a Dallas. Pap-smear.

Ronald Reason
Ronald Reason
25 days ago

This story should be cited for violating the no-spin zone. 

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
25 days ago

Seems cut and dry.

The so-called “censorship zone” prohibits protesting, which includes prayer and counseling in its definition.

Jpchiesa
Jpchiesa
25 days ago

And those pompous brits wonder why we declared independence from their cold, wet, little island.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Jpchiesa
23 days ago

They may be pompous and the UK may be dreary, but it doesn’t change the fact that the idiot in the article broke the law. You either didn’t read the article or you are dumb.