Lauren C. Moye, FISM News
The charges against Isabel Vaughan-Spruce – the British woman who faced jail time for allegedly silently praying outside an abortion clinic – have been dropped, but the woman intends to pursue a full dismissal of the charges in court to set a court precedent for future pro-life advocates.
The Alliance Defending Freedom United Kingdom (ADFUK) shared the pro-life win on Friday alongside a warning that the Crown Prosecution Service may reinstate the charges at a later date.
“CPS have now communicated that they have discontinued the charges against Vaughan-Spruce, yet also have made clear that the charges ‘may well start again’ in the near future subject to further evidential review. This is a warning prosecutors can issue when they expect that further evidence will be received,” the ADFUK press release reads.
Meanwhile, Vaughan-Spruce is now seeking to be cleared of the charges in court. The charges remain a hindrance to her volunteer work as a crisis pregnancy charity volunteer for as long as the charges might resume against her. In doing so, she is also seeking a clear legal precedent for all pro-life workers in Britain.
“It can’t be right that I was arrested and made a criminal, only for praying in my head on a public street. So-called ‘buffer zone legislation’ will result in so many more people like me, doing good and legal activities like offering charitable support to women in crisis pregnancies, or simply praying in their heads, being treated like criminals and even facing court,” Vaughan-Spruce stated.
"Many of us need an answer as to whether it’s still lawful to pray silently in our own heads."
– Isabel is seeking a clear verdict in court after CPS have left her in a state of legal uncertainty. We'll support her all the way. Nobody should be criminalised for their thoughts. pic.twitter.com/YMDGpVYqBY
— ADF UK (@ADF_UK) February 3, 2023
Vaughan-Spruce was arrested on Dec. 22 after police approached her on a street near the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham. Vaughan-Spruce was standing still and was quiet when police approached to ask her if she was praying.
She was arrested and charged with four counts of violating the Government’s Public Order Bill, which was recently amended to create a buffer zone around abortion clinics to protect clients from pro-life “intimidation and harassment.”
The police presented photos taken of Vaughan-Spruce outside the clinic on previous dates as evidence for the charges, even though the clinic was closed on at least three of the four instances. Meanwhile, Vaughan-Spruce was unable to confirm if the pictures depicted her silently praying.
One of the terms authorities placed on Vaughan-Spruce over her bail was to cut off contact between the woman and a local Catholic priest who was well known for his involvement in the pro-life movement.
Jeremiah Iggunbole, a lawyer with ADF UK, said Vaughan-Spruce was correct to seek clarity from the courts. He said that the police had turned the legal process into punishment with their treatment of the ADF UK client.
“It’s one thing for the authorities to humiliatingly search and arrest an individual simply for their thoughts. It’s quite another to initially deem those thoughts to be sufficient evidence to justify charges, then discontinue those charges due to ‘insufficient evidence,’ and then to warn that further evidence relating to the already unclear charges may soon be forthcoming so as to restart the entire grueling process from the beginning.”
Since Britain amended their buffer law, ADF UK has taken on several clients protesting the infringement of free speech.
Free speech is the foundation of every free and democratic society.
Take a look at what we’re doing to protect this right: https://t.co/5MF8GwFv6Q pic.twitter.com/Stc3SweI0s
— ADF International (@ADFIntl) February 3, 2023