UK police allege pro-life activist breached ‘public space protection order’
British police arrested a woman who stood silently in front of an abortion clinic and admitted after questioning that she may have been praying in her head.
Footage of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce’s encounter with police in Birmingham, England, went viral on social media this week, sparking outrage online over her detention. A video posted Thursday on Twitter had garnered 3.8 million views by Friday afternoon.
The incident is believed to have happened on December 6, when Vaughan-Spruce was confronted by West Midlands Police as she stood on a pavement. An officer asked her what she was doing, to which she replied that she was just standing. Asked if she was protesting, the 45-year-old said no.
The officer then asked, “Do you pray? » Vaughan Spruce replied “I may be praying in my head.” The police offered to take her to their station for a more voluntary questioning, which she refused. The male officer responded by announcing that she was under arrest on suspicion of raping a “Ordinance for the protection of public space” (PSPO), which he described as “antisocial behavior”. A police officer searched and handcuffed Vaughan-Spruce.
Protests outside the Birmingham abortion clinic have been banned under a city protection order since September. The ordinance aims to ensure that people visiting or working in the clinic have clear access to the building “without fear of confrontation” a city spokesperson told local media.
Vaughan-Spruce has been identified as the director of Britain’s March for Life. Three policemen confronted her, apparently because someone complained that she might be praying outside the clinic. She was charged last week with four counts of breaching a PSPO.
Crowdfunding for Vaughan-Spruce case, faith-based legal defense fund ADF UK linked to video in which activist said she was being prosecuted for “Thoughts I thought about and where I thought them.”
West Midlands Police are the lowest rated force in England and Wales, according to last year’s British Crime Survey. According to the poll, only 42.5% of residents believe the department is doing a “good” or “excellent” job. Only 2% of the 14,136 vehicle burglaries reported in the West Midland last year have been solved.
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