UK: House of Lords approves criminalizing prayer outside abortion clinics, pro-life groups outraged
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – In a move that UK pro-life advocates have described as an “assault on civil liberties,” the House of Lords this week passed a Public Order amendment to criminalize actions, including prayer, conducted outside abortion clinics that might deter women from terminating their pregnancies, Christian Today reports.
Amendment 45 to the UK’s Public Order Act makes it an offense, punishable by an unlimited fine, to engage in acts “influencing any person’s decision to access, provide or facilitate the provision of abortion services.” It was passed by voice vote and will now pass to the House of Commons for approval.
The proposed amendment has caused widespread dismay among major UK pro-life organizations already reeling from the fact that one anti-abortion activist was arrested and another fined in recent weeks outside British abortion clinics, CT reports. Critics note the proposed legislation is so vague it will be left to individual judges to determine how to interpret it: even those praying silently in one’s mind close to an abortion clinic may be vulnerable to arrest.
In a statement, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) called the amendment an “outrageous assault on civil liberties.” In particular, SPUC Public Policy Manager Alithea Williams attested: “Ordinary, peaceful citizens will now be branded criminals and subject to crippling financial penalties for the simple act of praying in public and offering help to women in need.”
Calling the day the amendment passed a “black day for democracy and basic civil liberties,” Williams added: “Many children are alive today because their mother received help and support from a compassionate pro-life person outside a clinic. Many women feel like they have to choose to have an abortion, and pro-life vigils give them options. Now their choices have been taken away.”
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