UK’s Thought Police arrest a woman because of what she “might” be thinking while standing on a street near an abortion clinic
A charity volunteer has been arrested and charged on four counts after she told the police she “might” be praying silently when questioned as to why she was standing on a public street near an abortion facility.
She wasn’t arrested for harassing anyone. She wasn’t arrested for protesting. She was arrested for private thoughts inside her own mind.
Director of the March for Life UK, Isabel Vaughn-Spruce, was standing near the British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham. She was standing calmly, carrying no sign and in complete silence. An onlooker, who suspected that Vaughan-Spruce was praying silently in her mind, complained to the police. Police arrived and asked Vaughn-Spruce what she was doing. Vaughn-Spruce was searched, arrested and then interrogated.
Whilst in the police station, police showed her pictures of herself standing near the clinic and asked her if she was praying. Vaughn-Spruce said she “might” have been praying but could not recall if she was praying at these specific moments, or whether she was thinking about something else, such as her lunch. She was charged with four counts. As part of her conditions for bail, Vaughan-Spruce was told that she should not contact a local Catholic priest who was also involved in pro-life work – a condition that was later dropped.
Her arrest follows another recent incident in Bournemouth where a woman was told to leave by local authorities for praying, even outside of the local censorship zone.
Last year, a grandmother from Liverpool successfully overturned her charge on human rights grounds after she was arrested and fined for praying silently near an abortion facility on a walk during lockdown.
“It’s abhorrently wrong that I was searched, arrested, interrogated by police and charged simply for praying in the privacy of my own mind. Censorship zones purport to ban harassment, which is already illegal. Nobody should ever be subject to harassment. But what I did was the furthest thing from harmful – I was exercising my freedom of thought, my freedom of religion, inside the privacy of my own mind. Nobody should be criminalised for thinking and for praying, in a public space in the UK”, Vaughan-Spruce said following her arrest. “Isabel’s experience should be deeply concerning to all those who believe that our hard-fought fundamental rights are worth protecting. It is truly astonishing that the law has granted local authorities such wide and unaccountable discretion, that now even thoughts deemed ‘wrong’ can lead to a humiliating arrest and a criminal charge,” said Jeremiah Igunnubole, Legal Counsel for ADF UK, the legal organisation supporting Vaughan-Spruce.
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