UK police drop charges, apologize to woman arrested for silent prayer near abortion business

pro-life Isabel Vaughan-Spruce

Police in the United Kingdom confirmed last week that all charges have been dropped against Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the woman arrested for “thoughtcrime” as she stood and silently prayed outside an abortion facility. The police also apologized to Vaughan-Spruce for the length of time it took for them to determine whether or not she would face charges.

The apology came just one week after the British Home Secretary Suella Braverman told police that “silent prayer, within itself, is not unlawful.”

On March 6, Vaughan-Spruce was arrested for praying inside a “buffer zone” outside an abortion facility. Pro-life activity, including prayer, had been outlawed as part of the “Public Spaces Protection Order.” The entire interaction was caught on video.

Vaughan-Spruce maintained that she hadn’t done anything in violation of the buffer zone ordinance, but the police insisted her silent praying warranted an arrest. “But you’ve said you’re engaging in prayer, which is the offense,” one officer said.

“Silent prayer,” Vaughan-Spruce responded, to which the officer replied, “No, but you were still engaging in prayer. It is an offense.”

The incident was Vaughan-Spruce’s second arrest for praying; she was first arrested in December of last year, but those charges were subsequently dropped.

According to Alliance Defending Freedom UK, the firm representing Vaughan-Spruce, the local West Midlands Police have now confirmed that there will be no further investigation into the alleged matter, and there will be no further action taken.”

Vaughan-Spruce welcomed the ruling. “This isn’t 1984, but 2023 – I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind. Silent prayer is never criminal,” she said, referencing author George Orwell’s famed dystopian novel, “1984.”

“I welcome West Midland Police’s decision to end their investigation and their apology for the time it took to do so, but it’s important to highlight the extremely harmful implications of this ordeal not just for myself, but for everyone concerned with fundamental freedoms in the UK,” she added. “What happened to me signals to others that they too could face arrest, interrogation, investigation, and potential prosecution if caught exercising their basic freedom of thought.”

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