A Catholic priest has been arrested in the United Kingdom for praying silently outside an abortion clinic. This marks the third arrest of peaceful Pro-Life individuals in recent weeks. Father Sean Gough was holding a sign reading “praying for free speech” in protest of recent false arrests.
Fr. Gough was arrested and charged for violating a censorship zone that prohibits prayer and sharing of pregnancy support information. Additionally, he faced another charge for parking his car, with a “unborn lives matter” bumper sticker, within the same area.
The surrounding area is covered by a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which prohibits prayer, distributing pregnancy help information, and other activities considered to be “protest.”
Authorities arrested Fr. Gough for supporting free speech in a censorship zone, charging him with “intimidating service-users” of the abortion clinic, even though the facility was closed. The charges against him were later dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service, but could be reinstated.
Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was also arrested for praying silently outside an abortion clinic in Birmingham after the approval of a censorship zone that prohibited Pro-Life individuals from protesting, counseling, praying, or even being present in the area. She was eventually charged with failing to comply with the PSPO, but her charges have also been dropped for now. Her legal team is concerned that the charges could be reinstated in the future.
The recent arrests have sparked controversy and a call for free speech and religious rights. The Crown Prosecution Service has stated that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in both cases. However, legal counsel for ADF UK, Jeremiah Igunnubole, warns that the charges could return if any evidence is found that could lead to a conviction, which could result in the police reopening the case.
The recent arrests and legal battles highlight the ongoing debate surrounding censorship zones, free speech, and religious freedom in the United Kingdom.