Britain’s House of Commons allowed a criminalizing law in praying outside the abortion clinic. A monetary penalty would be imposed for each violation committed.
Criminalization of Praying Outside Abortion Clinics
On Mar. 7, the House of Commons in Britain passed legislation to construct “buffer zones” across the country. The act prohibits behavior that “interferes with any person’s decision to access, provide, or facilitate the provision of abortion services” near abortion clinics.
The Catholic News Agency reported that the too-broad clause of the bill would make a wide variety of activities illegal, including the practice of silent prayer. Any infraction would result in a monetary penalty being assessed. Yet, the amount of the fine is theoretically uncapped.
Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster, the lead bishop for life issues for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, made the statement on Wednesday, Mar. 15. He said that the prayer was a lament. It’s possible that in some “zones” across these territories, expressing specific ideas or peacefully preaching to the Gospel of life may now be considered a criminal act.
On the other hand, an amendment that would have protected silent prayer and communication based on mutual consent within impacted buffer zones was rejected by parliamentarians, which caused particular alarm among the bishops in England and Wales. The vote to reject the proposal came in at 299 to 116.
Also Read: Police Officer Suspended For Praying Outside Abortion Clinic Receives $75K As Settlement
Some of the Pro-life Activists’ Illegal Praying Cases Outside An Abortion Clinic
According to Christianity Today, earlier in January, Adam Smith-Connor was observed kneeling and praying in silence while facing the rear of an abortion facility when he was out in public in Bournemouth, UK. The community safety force officers inquired as to what he was doing, and he responded that he was “praying for [his] son, who has passed away.”
A video of the event shows the cops offering their condolences before stating that Smith-Connor, a 49-year-old physical therapist and veteran of the British army, was “in contravention” of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). In the end, he had to pay a fine. The PSPO in question is a municipal law passed in October 2022 and established a “safe zone” encompassing several city blocks around the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) abortion clinic. The law makes it illegal to demonstrate by yourself or with others, and it includes prayer as an element of demonstration in its definition of the term.
In a release from Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADFI), a conservative legal group assisting him, Smith-Connor revealed that the abortion that occurred nearly three decades ago was regarding the deceased son he had mentioned to the police. Smith-Connor was the one who paid for the abortion, but she deeply regrets her decision and believes that abortion is harmful to women, kids, and families.
As per the Angelus News, The legislators who voted to introduce the buffer zones to the Public Order Law rejected an amendment that would have exempted prayer and consensual talk from its provisions.
As mentioned, after being accused of violating a Birmingham council protection order by praying in front of an abortion clinic, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, co-director of March for Life UK, and Father Sean Gough, priest of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, was acquitted in February of all charges against them. She had been accused of breaking the order by praying in front of the clinic. The final vote took place the day after a pro-life woman was detained for the second time in Birmingham for praying silently in what is believed to be a municipal buffer zone law violation.
Related Article: Priest Arrested for Silently Praying in Protected Area Outside Abortion Clinic