A pro-life activist and charity worker from the United Kingdom, Isabel Vaughn-Spruce, was arrested for a second time for the "offense" of praying silently outside of an abortion clinic.
According to CBN News, Isabel Vaughn-Spruce was arrested again on Monday outside the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham. She was first arrested there last December for silently praying outside the facility since it is within a censorship zone or "buffer zone."
As Christian Headlines previously reported, a UK court recently dropped the charges initially laid against Vaughn-Spruce for "violating a Public Space Protection Order, which prohibits "protesting, namely engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means," including "graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counseling" outside the abortion clinic.
Alliance Defending Freedom UK, who had been representing Vaughn-Spruce, posted a 46-second clip of the exchange between the pro-life activist and police officers before they arrested her on Monday.
"Can I please ask you to step away from here and step outside the exclusion zone?" one officer asked her.
In response, Vaughn-Spruce said, "But I'm not protesting. I'm not engaging in any of the activities prohibited."
"But you said you were engaging in prayer, which is the offense," the officer replied.
"Silent prayer," Vaughn-Spruce said.
"No, but you were still engaging in prayer. It is an offense," the officer indicated.
Vaughn-Spruce, however, told the officer that she disagreed with him.
"Okay, then. So you would rather that you be arrested and taken away than stand outside the exclusion zone. Is that what you're saying," the officer asked her.
In response, Vaughn-Spruce maintained that silently praying is not offensive and insisted that she was not protesting or harassing anyone. The video concluded with two officers standing near her.
While only two officers were in the clip, ADF noted that a total of six police officers were involved in her arrest on Monday. Additionally, her bail conditions restrict her from standing in an area extending beyond the "buffer zone" around an abortion clinic.
"Only three weeks ago, it was made clear by the court that my silent prayers were not a crime. And yet, again, I have been arrested and treated as a criminal for having the exact same thoughts in my head, in the same location," Vaughan-Spruce said in a statement. "The ambiguity of laws that limit free expression and thought – even in peaceful, consensual conversation or in silent, internal prayer – leads to abject confusion, to the detriment of important fundamental rights. Nobody should be criminalized for their thoughts."
In the follow-up tweet, the ADF UK posted another clip showing further interaction between Vaughn-Spruce and the police officers.
Police wrongly claimed that the PSPO "buffer zone" banned Isabel from simply standing near a clinic.— ADF UK (@ADF_UK) March 6, 2023
This is simply not true. A court ruled only weeks ago that Isabel broke no laws by thinking a prayer in her mind.
How can MPs roll out this law with so little clarity? pic.twitter.com/whcuDtKvz5
“Police wrongly claimed that the PSPO 'buffer zone' banned Isabel from simply standing near a clinic,” the group wrote. “This is simply not true. A court ruled only weeks ago that Isabel broke no laws by thinking a prayer in her mind.
“How can MPs roll out this law with so little clarity?”
On Tuesday, the House of Commons debated rolling out censorship zones around abortion facilities across the UK.
If enacted, Clause 10 of the Public Order Bill would outlaw any form of "influencing" outside of abortion facilities, including prayer, consensual peaceful conversations, or offers of help about services available to those desiring an alternative to abortion.
So far, Andrew Lewer MP has proposed an amendment to the ban that would excuse silent prayer and consensual conversations from the ban.
“MPs CAN amend Clause 10 of the Public Order Bill. This isn't 1984. The UK Parliament should not be introducing the first thoughtcrime into UK law. ASK YOUR MP to support @ALewerMBE's amendments to exempt silent prayer and consensual conversation from the ban,” ADF UK wrote in response to Lewer's amendment.
MPs CAN amend Clause 10 of the Public Order Bill.— ADF UK (@ADF_UK) March 6, 2023
This isn't 1984. The UK Parliament should not be introducing the first thoughtcrime into UK law.
⚠️- ASK YOUR MP to support @ALewerMBE's amendments to exempt silent prayer and consensual conversation from the ban.
Photo courtesy: ©ADF UK, used with permission.
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.