Britain’s House of Commons approved legislation on March 7 to create “buffer zones” around abortion centers, which would prohibit a wide range of behavior, including silent prayers.
The Vote on The Public Order Law
Prior to the vote on the Public Order Law, an amendment to exempt consensual prayers and conversations, which often occur between pro-life activists and people who attend abortion facilities, from the bans was rejected.
Likewise, the final vote occurred the day after a pro-life woman was arrested in Birmingham (United Kingdom) for the second time for silently praying outside an abortion center, in an alleged violation of the local buffer zone law.
Opponents of the legislation condemned the passage of the bill, calling it a blow against individual liberty in the UK.
“Today’s vote marks a watershed moment for fundamental rights and freedoms in our country,” Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal adviser for the UK-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF UK), said on March 7.
“Parliament had the opportunity to reject the criminalization of free thought, which is an absolute right, and embrace individual freedom for all. Instead, Parliament chose to endorse censorship and criminalize peaceful activities like silent prayer and consensual conversation,” he noted.
Igunnubole warned that “today is abortion. Tomorrow it could be another hot topic of political debate.”
In that sense, he explained that “the principle remains that the government should never be able to punish anyone for prayer, much less silent prayer and peaceful and consensual conversation.”
The bill would create a 150 meter buffer zone outside abortion facilities in England and Wales. Additionally, it prohibits intimidation, harassment, or interference by those who seek or provide abortions. Violation would be punishable by a fine and not by jail, as was proposed. However, the financial penalty is potentially unlimited.
The broad provision of the law prohibits any act that has the effect of “influencing the decision of any person to access, provide or facilitate the provision of abortion services.”
Alithea Williams, public policy manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, warned that the buffer zone law “means ordinary citizens will be branded criminals and subject to crippling financial penalties for peacefully testifying and offering help.” to women in need.”
Williams also noted that the presence of pro-life advocates near abortion centers is “a real lifeline for women,” as “many children are alive today because their mothers received help and support from a compassionate pro-life person outside of a clinic.”
On the other hand, she recalled that “many women feel pressured or coerced into having an abortion, and pro-life vigils give them options. Now their options have been taken away.”
In that sense, he described as “disappointing” the vote that rejected an amendment to exempt silent prayers and consensual conversations within those buffer zones from the prohibitions.
This article is originally published on aciprensa.com