Woman Arrested for Silently Praying Outside Abortion Facility

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

A woman has been arrested in the United Kingdom for silently praying outside an abortion facility.

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was standing outside the BPAS Robert Clinic in Birmingham when police approached her and asked her what she was doing. She told them that she was praying silently in her mind. Police then arrested her and charged her with four counts related to the violation of an “exclusion zone” around the facility.


The ADF UK, which defends people in religious liberty cases, reported on the incident.

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.  

Police approached Isabel Vaughan-Spruce standing near the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham. Vaughan-Spruce was carrying no sign and remained completely silent until approached by officers. Police had received complaints from an onlooker who suspected that Vaughan-Spruce was praying silently in her mind.

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,” said Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, following her arrest for silent prayer.

The thugs who made the arrest tried to clarify their actions later in response to the ADF UK. For my money, all they did was dig the hole deeper.


There’s a lot to go after here, starting with the fact that it’s third-world authoritarianism to make “zones” where people aren’t allowed to pray silently. That’s insane, and the fact that so many people responding to this story actually sided with the police is genuinely scary (you can read the replies to the ADF UK’s tweet to get an idea). If a government can simply create zones whereby even unspoken thoughts now become crimes, then there is no limit to its power.

Yes, I understand that freedom of speech doesn’t exist in the UK in the way it does in the United States, but does that make it acceptable to crack down in this way? And in the absence of it, shouldn’t leadership in the United States be condemning these violations of human rights? China doesn’t have a right to free speech either, yet its violations of that principle draw shark rebuke, as they should. But when it’s the Eurotrash cracking down on basic freedoms, the Biden administration has nothing to say. It’s an outrageous moral blindspot.

Further, while the police claim the zone is meant to stop harassment, praying silently is not harassment. Is the idea that a person isn’t even allowed to pray against abortion now? This story shines a bright light on how sick the global society has become. People are getting arrested for praying to themselves while “doctors” just feet away inside a building are protected as they tear children apart limb by limb for profit.


And don’t think for a second this can’t happen in the United States. In fact, it already is on some level, with the FBI arresting people under the unconstitutional FACE Act, which creates a similar exclusion zone around abortion facilities. Meanwhile, attacks on pro-life centers go largely uninvestigated.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think about how far we’ve fallen. You can kill a child, but if you protest killing a child, even silently, you go to jail. 1984 was a fiction novel. It wasn’t supposed to be a user manual.


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