UK:Catholic priest criminally charged for praying inside abortion clinic buffer zone
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A Catholic priest and pro-life activist in the UK was recently criminally charged with “intimidating service-users” after he stood inside an abortion clinic buffer zone (while the clinic was closed) holding a sign which said “praying for free speech,” Christian Today reports.
Father Sean Gough was charged under the Public Spaces Protection Order regulating a buffer zone around the Birmingham abortion clinic, CT said. The Order prohibits prayer, the distribution of information about help, and any activities deemed to be a “protest,” CT reports. The priest was further charged for parking his car displaying an “unborn lives matter” bumper sticker inside the same zone.
As it did in the very similar recent case of pro-life activist Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charges against Gough – while at the same time saying the charges may be reinstated, CT reports. Like Vaughan-Spruce, Gough has been left in a state of legal limbo.
In a statement about the case, Gough’s attorney Jeremiah Igunnubole of ADF UK, first noted the uncertainty caused by the Prosecution’s warning that the charges may be reimposed even after being dropped. “The process in and of itself has become the punishment for people like Father Sean, who face onerous legal battles simply for holding peaceful views in certain public spaces, against the will of authorities,” Igunnubole said.
“Nobody should be criminalized for peaceful activities like praying for the state of free speech in our country, or having a simple bumper sticker on their car that expresses a belief that ‘unborn lives matter’,” Igunnubole added.”This case demonstrates the far-reaching and illiberal consequences of so-called ‘buffer zones’. Father Sean’s years of service to women in crisis pregnancies are testimony to the good of his character and intention.”
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