British pro-life advocates are fighting back against a new Birmingham city ordinance that prohibits them from praying and peacefully reaching out to pregnant mothers outside abortion facilities.
The Christian Post reports Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, who leads the 40 Days for Life Birmingham campaign, filed a lawsuit against the city this fall, arguing that the ordinance discriminates against peaceful pro-life advocates.
“Through this action, I am not asking for anyone to agree with what 40 Days believes; others have the right to disagree. However, I am asking for justice to be upheld despite our differences in belief,” Vaughan-Spruce said in a statement.
Even using the word “baby” or “mother” near a city abortion facility could send pro-life advocates to jail for up to six months under the new ordinance, according to the Christian Legal Centre, which represents Vaughan-Spruce.
The Birmingham Public Spaces Protection Order, which passed in September, creates a buffer zone around abortion facilities that prevents pro-life advocates from praying or reaching out to pregnant mothers with information and support, the legal organization said.
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The Christian Legal Centre described the ordinance as a “targeted clampdown on the 40 Days’ activities” even though the pro-life campaign has been peaceful and law-abiding.
“The buffer zone … has now essentially criminalized the group’s ministry by prohibiting any discussion of abortion within the area,” the legal organization said in a statement. “This includes prayer, counselling and providing information and support available to women in crisis pregnancies. Using the word ‘baby’ or ‘mum’ is also now an offence.”
Some of the pro-life advocates affected by the ordinance are mothers who have had abortions themselves and understand the devastating consequences of aborting an unborn baby, the legal organization continued.
According to the Christian Post, the British Parliament is debating a similar measure this fall that would prohibit pro-life outreach near abortion facilities nation-wide.
The British pro-life organization SPUC recently slammed a vote to impose buffer zones around abortion facilities across England and Wales, calling it an “outrageous assault on civil liberties.”
Alithea Williams, SPUC 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.”
Abortions are legal for any reason up to 24 weeks in England, and up to birth in cases involving fetal anomalies or risks to the mother’s health.