Pro-Life Activist Arrested, Accused Of Silently Praying In The UK
Isabel Vaughan Spruce’s recent arrest for silently praying outside an abortion clinic in the United Kingdom has sparked outrage from pro-life activists all over the world.
In recent weeks, the pro-life community has been faced with a new challenge in the form of the arrest of Bea Spruce. Spruce was taken into police custody for allegedly breaking a Public Space Protection Order by praying near an abortion clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham. The incident was captured on video and showed officers confronting the woman, who was standing silently in prayer. In response to the arrest, pro-life activists have rallied around Spruce, condemning the violation of her religious freedom and her right to peacefully protest.
The arrest of Spruce is part of a larger effort by the Justice Department to crack down on pro-life activists in the United States. Most notably, Mark Houck, a pro-life father, was arrested for allegedly pushing an abortion clinic volunteer who was reportedly bothering his son as they prayed outside an abortion clinic.
“Are you praying?” the police officer asked her.
“I might be praying in my head,” she responded.
The pro-life community is outraged by the arrest of Spruce. They argue that her right to peacefully protest should be respected and that the Public Space Protection Order used to arrest her is overly broad and does not account for the peaceful nature of her protest. Peaceful protest has long been a cornerstone of the pro-life movement and the arrest of Spruce has only further energized pro-life activists to stand up for their rights.
Police in the UK arrest a woman for silently praying:
"Are you praying?"
"I might be praying in my head." pic.twitter.com/7Q8UnKmfa1
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) December 22, 2022
Free speech is severely constrained in the UK, obviously, but 5 councils have created zones restricting free speech even further declaring specific locations under "Public Space Protection Orders".
“The PSPO protecting the area around Robert Clinic focuses on ensuring people visiting and working there have clear access without fear of confrontation. Any local authority seeking to implement a PSPO must have robust evidence for its introduction, which guides the conditions and location – this includes concerns and complaints received from the community,” a Birmingham City Council spokesperson said when the order was granted.
The PSPO order that Vaughan-Spruce reportedly violated was imposed by Birmingham City Council on September 7, and it prohibited all abortion protests outside the clinic. According to the footage, Vaughan-Spruce did not carry a sign, candles for a vigil, or graphic images that would be considered distressing to neighborhood neighbors as she stood in front of the building by herself. On February 2, 2023, Vaughan-Spruce is set to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court.