Birmingham ‘buffer zone’

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce is challenging a Public Space Protection Order in Birmingham that prevents prayerful vigil outside an abortion centre

40 Days for Life, an international grass roots organisation dedicated to ending abortion, includes a small group of volunteers who are predominantly local to Birmingham. Since January 2020, the volunteers have been regularly praying for and offering help and information on alternatives to abortion to women outside of the clinic. Many of the volunteers have been through abortions themselves.

However, a newly introduced ‘buffer zone’ has now essentially criminalised the group’s ministry by prohibiting any discussion of abortion within the area. 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.

The targeted clampdown on the 40 Days’ activities comes despite there being no evidence of the group doing anything ‘anti-social’ or criminal.

Instead, Miss Vaughan-Spruce says that the police and local council have done little to protect the group’s volunteers from being subjected to harassment, assault, anti-Christian abuse and being spat at by members of the public who oppose their presence and beliefs.

Backed by the Christian Legal Centre, Miss Vaughan-Spruce will now challenge the validity of the PSPO with lawyers arguing that the council has exceeded its powers.

They will say that the council did not have the power to make the PSPO because officials wrongly sought to prohibit peaceful and lawful behaviour which cannot properly be characterised as “anti-social”, and for which there is no evidence.


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