Anyone caught praying outside an abortion clinic in England could now face up to six months in prison, according to a new bill passed by the British Parliament.
According to CBN News, members of Parliament voted 297-110 to support an amendment to the Government’s Public Order Bill that would prohibit praying and advice to women outside of abortion clinics.
Stella Creasy, Labour Member of Parliament, said she introduced the bill to protect women from alleged “intimidation and harassment.”
But Parliament member Carla Lockhart said people who pray outside the clinic are not harassing women, and the new bill violates free speech.
“There is no evidence of the scale of harassment related, indeed, some in this house have referred to today.
“Therefore, I would take this amendment is not necessary,” she said. “It would risk all intended consequences for freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and it would be bad for women, so a blanket ban is an unnecessary and disproportionate response, especially when the police can protect women through other lawful means. The police already have the tools they need to protect women.”
A woman who claimed she did not have an abortion because of a pro-life volunteer said the bill is a “bad idea.”
“The potential introduction of buffer zones is a really bad idea because women like me, what would they do then,” she said. “You know, not every woman that walks into those clinics actually wants to go through with the termination. There’s immense pressure, maybe they don’t have the financial means to support themselves or their baby, or they feel like there’s no alternatives. These people offer alternatives.”
MP Fiona Bruce said she was worried the bill was too broad and could even risk jail for pro-life activists who pray silently near the clinic.
“When did it become against the law in this country to pray?” she said.
Photo courtesy: Olivia Snow/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.