How 40 Days for Life fought and won against a UK city council wanting to ban pro-life witness

Apr 14, 2018 by

by John Edwards, LifeSite:

40 Days For Life is a Christian pro-life campaign group which aims to end the scourge of abortion by praying outside abortion clinics and offering women an alternative to aborting their unborn child. Holding placards which read ‘Pray to end abortion’, ‘Pro woman, pro baby, prolife’ and ‘Pregnant? Need help? Ask’, volunteers pray quietly for an hour or more, and the vigil is maintained for 12 hours per day for 40 consecutive days until Palm Sunday.

In Nottingham we have recently completed our third 40 Days for Life vigil on public land, near to one of the entrances to the main hospital (QMC) where many abortions are carried out. Our vigil began on Wednesday 14th February (Ash Wednesday). This year’s choice of location was in response to a police request and so we were confident that our vigil site would be legal, and this was confirmed by early visits from the police, to check on our safety.

On the first day, we were visited by community police enforcement officers from Nottingham City Council. Their first visit (in the middle of the day) was to offer support, should we be threatened or abused. It was their job, they told us, to protect our freedom to protest.

The second visit, later the same afternoon, was to say that we were no longer allowed to be where we were, and must cease our vigil. Since we knew that our location and our activities were within the law, we continued.

Then, on 20th February I was given a formal letter which told us that our behaviour was ‘causing, or likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress’ to others, and that we must no longer carry out our vigil in the vicinity of the hospital. Having taken legal advice, I wrote a detailed letter to the City Council, in which I explained the peaceful nature of what we were doing.

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