Isabel Vaughan-Spruce / ADF UK

CNA Newsroom, Dec 30, 2022 / 08:04 am (CNA).

A woman arrested by British police faces charges of “protesting and engaging in an act that is intimidating to service users” for standing still and praying silently outside an abortion facility.

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was arrested in Birmingham, UK, on Dec. 6.

Video footage of her arrest was published on social media. The video shows an officer asking Vaughan-Spruce if she was praying, to which she answers: “I might be praying in my head.”

Following a further exchange with police, the 45-year-old was arrested and interrogated. Vaughan-Spruce is the director of March for Life UK.

She was charged Dec. 15 with four counts of breaking a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) around the abortion facility. A PSPO is intended to stop antisocial behavior. The terms of the PSPO include prayer under ‘protest,’ which is banned within the ‘buffer zone’ around the clinic.

Vaughan-Spruce is accused of “protesting and engaging in an act that is intimidating to service users” for standing still and praying silently inside a buffer zone.

At the time of Vaughan-Spruce’s arrest, the abortion facility outside which she was standing was closed.

Speaking about her pro-life work, Vaughan-Spruce said, “I have devoted much of my life to supporting women in crisis pregnancies with everything that they need to make an empowered choice for motherhood.”

“My faith is a central part of who I am, so sometimes I’ll stand or walk near an abortion facility and pray about this issue. This is something I’ve done pretty much every week for around the last 20 years of my life.”

“If Isabel had been loudly campaigning against climate change on the street, she would not have been charged for breaking the PSPO,” said Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK.

“But it appears that the police have now charged her solely on the basis of her admissions that she prayed silently, raising her thoughts about abortion to God in her mind.”

ADF UK is supporting Vaughan-Spruce ahead of her appearance at Birmingham Magistrates Court on Feb. 2.

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