British Parliament OKs 2-Year Prison Term for Praying Outside Abortion Clinics

International   |   SPUC   |   Oct 18, 2022   |   7:03PM   |   London, England

SPUC has slammed a vote to impose buffer zones around abortion clinics, calling it an “outrageous assault on civil liberties”.

New Clause 11 to the Public Order Bill, was approved by MP by 297 votes to 110. It will create so-called “buffer zones” around abortion facilities, and make it illegal to interfere “with any person’s decision to access, provide, or facilitate the provision of abortion services in that buffer zone” – an offence punishable by up to 2 years in prison.

The amendment was originally tabled by Rupa Huq MP, but after she was suspended from the Labour party while she is investigated for racism against former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, it was instead moved by Labour MP Stella Creasy.

“A black day for democracy and basic civil liberties”

Alithea Williams, SPUC’s Public Policy Manager, said: “This is a black day for democracy and basic civil liberties. Ordinary, peaceful citizens now risk substantial jail time for the simple act of praying in public, and offering help to women in need. Parliament has literally just criminalised compassion.

“And that’s the point,” she continued. “This is not just an outrageous assault on civil liberties, it removes a real lifeline for women. 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 choice to have an abortion, and pro-life vigils give them options. Now their choices have been taken away.”

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Ms Williams concluded: “We will continue to fight against this cruel and draconian policy.”

“A caring society doesn’t criminalise people for offering help to vulnerable mothers.”

MPs speaking against the amendment recounted the stories of women who had been helped by volunteers outside abortion clinics.

Sir Edward Leigh quoted from Alina Dulgieriu, who was given the help she needed to give birth to her daughter Sara outside the Ealing abortion clinic. She said “The day I made my way to the abortion clinic is the darkest my heart has ever known. All I needed was help until I gave birth. A lady and a leaflet, that’s all it took. Right there, on the steps of the abortion centre, from all that darkness at last I felt hope. I felt for the first time that my child was wanted, not only by me, but also by complete strangers. For the first time I felt I was not walking alone on the day I was meant to end the life within me, my child.

I cannot express the joy and how fulfilled I’ve felt as a woman, as a mother, to be given the chance to have my child. A just and caring society doesn’t criminalise people for offering help to vulnerable mothers.”