"Are you here to pray for the lives of unborn children?"

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: May 16, 2024

Sebastian Vaughan-Spruce was fined on May 16th in Birmingham while standing in a buffer zone near an abortion clinic. Among other things, the police asked him "Are you here to pray for the lives of unborn children?", in order to establish whether he was committing a crime. Sebastian replied that he was not praying silently in his head and further clarified: "I did not approach anyone, I did not speak to anyone, I did not breach anyone's privacy. I simply stood silently." He carried no sign either. The police could not tell him which crime he was committing, but nevertheless asked him to move away and leave the zone. When he inquired why, he was fined for not moving.

There were other people in the zone, but he was the only one interrogated. Sebastian's sister was also previously arrested twice for a similar "thought crime" in England, as have been others.

So called "buffer zone" clause is a part of the Public Spaces Protection Order for England and Wales and criminalises any form of "influence" around abortion clinics, including prayer. While the Home Secretary of the UK clarified that silent prayer was not unlawful in the buffer zones (OIDAC reported), the police have continued to target individuals who were standing silently in the zones, asking them if they were praying and issuing fines.

In March, UK Home Office minister called prayer a "difficult category" when commenting on the draft guidance on how "buffer zones" should be policed which holds that prayer "should not automatically be seen as unlawful". After a year of consultations, the Home Office has now said the guidance will not be published before the July election.

The criminalisation of silent prayer in the UK has been met with great concern not only by human rights organisations, but also by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (OIDAC reported). 

Sources: Yahoo NewsThe Telegraph, X, XThe Daily Telegraph, BPR, Reinformation.tv, Moonbattery, Fox News, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

Video/Image: X