A British pro-life woman who was praying quietly outside an abortion facility this fall said police told her to leave because her silent prayers could be considered “intimidation and harassment.”
This week, with the help of lawyers at ADF International, Livia Tossici-Bolt filed a complaint against the Bournemouth police for violating her religious liberties and free speech, according to the Catholic News Agency.
“Everyone has the freedom to pray quietly in a public place. I would never dream of doing something that causes intimidation and harassment,” she said in a statement. “Yet nevertheless, these prayer-patrol officers tried to intimidate us out of exercising our freedom of thought and of expression – in the form of prayer – which has been a foundational part of our society for generations.”
Earlier this fall, Tossici-Bolt said she and a friend were praying silently on the public street near an abortion facility in Bournemouth, England, when two Community Safety Accredited Officers approached them. She said she and her friend were standing outside the buffer zone, an area around the abortion facility where the city restricts free speech.
Even though they were being peaceful and law-abiding, Tossici-Bolt said the officers accused them of “intimidation and harassment” and told them to leave.
REACH PRO-LIFE PEOPLE WORLDWIDE! Advertise with LifeNews to reach hundreds of thousands of pro-life readers every week. Contact us today.
She said the officers also mentioned that there was a school near by and “children may ask questions.” Tossici-Bolt responded that there “is nothing wrong with asking questions.”
Lois McLatchie, communications officer for ADF UK, said the city buffer zone is unnecessary and it prevents pro-lifers from offering “genuine help” to pregnant mothers in need.
“Police forces and local authorities already have a wealth of legislation to prevent and penalize harassment of women in any circumstance,” McLatchie said in a statement.
According to CNA, several cities in the UK have buffer zone ordinances, but the British Parliament is debating legislation this fall that would create censorship spaces at abortion facilities all across England and Wales.
The legislation would silence pro-life advocates by not only prohibiting “’harassment’ outside of abortion facilities but [also] ‘informing,’ ‘advising,’ ‘influencing,’ ‘persuading’ and even ‘expressing an opinion,’” CNA reports.
Meanwhile, pro-life advocates in Birmingham filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the new buffer zone ordinance in the city. 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 the pro-life advocates.
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.