‘Sad day’ as MPs back abortion clinic buffer zones nationwide with protections for silent prayer

Mar 8, 2023 by

from Christian Today:

MPs last night moved forward with plans to impose buffer zones around abortion clinics across England and Wales.

The House of Commons voted 299 to 116 against an amendment introduced by Andrew Lewer MP to protect silent prayer and consensual conversations.

MPs then passed Clause 10 of the Public Order Bill, which criminalises all forms of “influence” near abortion clinics, by voice vote.

Introducing his amendment, Mr Lewer warned that the Bill risks causing “reputational damage” to the police.

He said that arrests for silent prayer were “entirely unacceptable in a free and open society”.

“I understand that many people will find it highly inappropriate for vocal or difficult protests to be held right outside abortion clinics, and I categorically condemn harassment against women at all points in their life, let alone near an abortion facility,” he said.

“However, that is a world away from the police being able to detain people and question them over what they are doing if they are merely standing there or praying quietly—or worse, if they are praying silently and are then asked by the police, agents of the state, ‘What are you thinking about?'”

Speaking during the debate, DUP MP Ian Paisley said the police will become “a laughing stock”.

“People will be mocking them, saying, ‘What about all the knife crime and all the other problems that you have? And you are arresting people for silently praying.’ This provision really does make a fool of the police, does it not?”

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