Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was arrested before Christmas on suspicion of a ‘thought crime’.
She was silently praying outside the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham. Video of her arrest was viewed by millions across social media.
During the arrest procedure the charity worker was searched, including her hair, frisked, and taken down to the local station for questioning. She was eventually released on bail with conditions not to enter the ‘PSPO’ area.
PSPO’s (Public Space Protection Order) give UK local councils the power to impose restrictions and conditions on the use of designated public areas.
In relation to the PSPO in place around the abortion clinic, Birmingham authorities imposed conditions prohibiting anyone from ‘engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval’ in relation to abortion, including through ‘verbal or written means, prayer or counselling…’.
Vaughan Spence now faces four charges in relation to breaching these conditions.
According to ADF UK, a faith-based non-profit which advocates for fundamental human rights, the charges amount to a ‘thought crime’.
‘Isabel’s physical presence in the PSPO area wasn’t a crime in itself; it was the contents of her private thoughts that were prohibited. If Isabel had stood in the same place thinking about another topic, she would not have been arrested.’
In a video filmed for ADF UK Vaughan-Spence said the police told her she was being charged ‘for the thoughts I’ve been thinking and where I was thinking them. You don’t have to be pro-life to see this is wrong.’
‘I’m still trying to getting my head around being arrested for having silent thoughts in the privacy of my own head,’ she said.
ADF UK have set up a donation page to help fund Vaughan-Spence’s legal costs.