A woman has been arrested by West Midlands Police in Birmingham, England, for the second time in two weeks for praying silently outside a closed abortion clinic, according to her attorneys.
Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, a Catholic pro-life volunteer, was arrested under a Public Spaces Protection Order that bans protest by “graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counseling,” the Express reported.
In an online video, she was told by a police officer that her silent prayer “is the offense.” Vaughan-Spruce was previously arrested on December 6 for “praying in my head” but was acquitted last month. She was also arrested on Monday outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s clinic in the Kings Norton area of Birmingham.
A video, posted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, shows Vaughan-Spruce being informed by a police officer that her actions are an offense against the country’s Public Spaces Protection Order that prohibits protest by “graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counseling.”
The arrest has been described by the legal communications director for ADF International as “outrageous” and as demonstrating the “mass legal uncertainty that censorship zones engender.”
The House of Commons debated amendments to the Public Order Bill on Tuesday that could criminalize any form of “influencing” outside of abortion facilities. The bill’s proposed penalties include a prison term of up to two years for offenders.
Conservative MP Andrew Lewer has proposed two changes to the legislation, the first of which would exempt “consensual” communication, silent prayer, and peaceful presence at clinics from being criminalized.
His second proposal would put a hold on implementing “censorship zones” near clinics until a government review is completed. Writing in the Express, Lewer wrote, “We do not need ‘thoughtcrime’ introduced in the United Kingdom.”