UK Woman Cleared Of Prayer Protest Charge At Abortion Clinic

UK authorities have dropped charges against a woman arrested for praying in a “buffer zone” that prohibits pro-life advocacy outside abortion clinics in England.

However, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce says she could still bring her charges back, leaving her in a sticky legal situation.

“It cannot be right for me to be arrested and made a criminal just for praying silently on a public street,” she Vaughan-Spruce said in a February 3 statement.

“The so-called ‘safe zone legislation’ will result in many more people like me doing good and legal activities, like giving charitable support to women in crisis pregnancy, or just praying, and being treated like criminals and even getting the courts,” he added.

Vaughan-Spruce Was Arrested on December 6, 2022

Vaughan-Spruce was arrested on December 6, 2022 in Birmingham, England, outside an abortion center that was closed at the time.

Video footage of her arrest shows an officer asking her if she was praying, to which she replies: “I could be praying in my head.”

She was charged on December 15 with four counts of violating Birmingham’s ordinance, which prohibits praying in “protest” around a clinic.

For standing still and praying silently, she was charged with “protesting and participating in an act that intimidates users of the service.”

Vaughan-Spruce is the director of March for Life UK or March for Life in the United Kingdom.

The Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charges at the end of January and Vaughan-Spruce was not required to appear in court, as previously scheduled. However, she can still be prosecuted if the charges are reinstated.

Her case is supported by ADF UK, a religious freedom legal group.

Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK, said in a February 1 statement that Vaughan-Spruce faces “significant legal uncertainty”.

Clarification of Legal Situation

Vaughan-Spruce said he will seek a verdict in court to clarify his legal situation.

“It’s important to me that I can continue my vital work supporting women who would like to avoid abortion if they had a little help,” she said.

“To do so, it is vital that I am clear about my legal status. Many of us need an answer as to whether it is still lawful to pray silently in our own heads.”

Igunnubole commented that “Isabel is right to request adequate clarity regarding the legality of her actions.”

“It is one thing for the authorities to search and arrest a person simply because of their thoughts, humiliating them,” the lawyer said. “It is quite another to initially consider those thoughts sufficient evidence to justify the charges, then drop those charges due to ‘insufficient evidence,’ and then warn that more evidence may soon emerge,” he added.

For the lawyer, “this is a clear example that the process becomes the punishment, creating a paralyzing effect on freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and beliefs.”

Several towns in England have implemented strict security zones, which some critics characterize as censorship zones.

At the national level, the UK Parliament passed legislation to create buffer zones around abortion clinics. The House of Lords approved the proposed legislation, called Amendment 45, in a vote on January 30.

Alithea Williams, public policy manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, lamented the passage of the bill.

“This is a black day for democracy and basic civil liberties,” she said on January 30.

“Ordinary, peaceful citizens will now be branded as criminals and subject to crippling financial penalties for the simple act of praying in public and offering help to women in need,” she added.

According to Williams, “parliament has literally just criminalized compassion,” removing “a real lifeline for women.”

“Many children are alive today because their mother received help and support from a compassionate pro-life person outside of a clinic. Many women feel they have to choose to have an abortion and pro-life vigils give them options. Now their options have been taken away.”

“Thought crime is now very real in the UK. It is very disappointing that MPs ignored these warnings and voted in favor of this extreme and cruel legislation,” Williams concluded.

This article is originally published on