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Woman arrested for silent prayer at UK abortion clinics gets police apology

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the woman twice arrested for silent prayer outside U.K. abortion clinics, has received a police apology and confirmation that she will not face charges for violating a local “buffer zone” protection order.

Though Vaughan-Spruce said she would return to the clinic to pray, she warned that her treatment has implications for the future of basic freedoms in the U.K.

“This isn’t 1984, but 2023 — I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind,” Vaughan-Spruce said, alluding to George Orwell’s dystopian novel. “Silent prayer is never criminal,” she said in a Sept. 22 statement.

On March 6, Vaughan-Spruce was arrested for praying in a “buffer zone” outside an abortion clinic on Station Road, Birmingham. Local authorities had declared a Public Space Protection Order near the clinic, using a legal mechanism intended to prevent antisocial behavior.

Prohibited activities in this zone include approval or disapproval of abortion through protest, which “includes but is not limited to graphic, verbal, or written means, prayer, or counseling.” The order also bars interference, intimidation, or harassment, recording or photographic clinic staff or clients, and the display of any text or imagery related to abortion.

Vaughan-Spruce was previously arrested Dec. 6, 2022, for silent prayer outside the same abortion facility, which was closed at the time. In February, the Birmingham Magistrates’ Court acquitted her of all charges related to the first case.

Read more at Catholic News Agency 

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