Brits’ buffer zones now ban prayer – even the silent kind

Brits’ buffer zones now ban prayer – even the silent kind

Brits’ buffer zones now ban prayer – even the silent kind

While prayer is a constitutional right in the United States, that's not necessarily true in the United Kingdom.

Pro-lifers who harass women at abortion clinics in England are few and are quickly encouraged to stay home. Yet, Parliament recently took up a bill to ban peaceful prayer activities on the sidewalks outside the country's many abortion clinics. Member of Parliament (MP) Carla Lockhart was first to condemn the bill.

“There is no evidence of the scale of harassment related, indeed, some in this house have referred to today. Therefore, I would take this amendment is not necessary,” said Lockhart. “It would risk all intended consequences for freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and it would be bad for women.”

Lockhart argued that in the vast majority of cases, there is no evidence that hospitals and abortion clinics are affected by protesters. “So a blanket ban is an unnecessary and disproportionate response, especially when the police can protect women through other lawful means. The police already have the tools they need to protect women,” she added.

Fiona Bruce, a pro-life member of Parliament, spoke out against the vague wording in the measure.

“The wording could even catch those quietly praying,” she exclaimed. “But when did it become against the law in this country to pray? Well, unfortunately five councils have now defined protests as including the word ‘prayer.’ Indeed, during the course of court proceedings this has even been confirmed as including ‘silent prayer.’”

According to Bruce, the proposals are a serious threat to the freedoms of “thought, conscience, speech, belief and assembly” – rights all of which are enshrined in the UK’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Nevertheless, Parliament passed the bill 297-110. Consequently, a person caught praying at an abortion clinic in England can now spend up to six months in jail for doing so.