Precious Life has condemned as a travesty of justice, the decision by the UK Supreme Court to uphold the banning and criminalising of pro-life vigils. For the first time in the UK, praying will now be a criminal offence. The Court ruling on the draconian and discriminatory so-called “Abortion Safe Access Zones Bill” means any woman or man praying within 150 metres of an abortion centre will be branded a criminal and punished on conviction by fines up to £2500.
In fact, the abortion zones legislation is so broad and sweeping that it will be a CRIME to DO ANYTHING outside an abortion centre which might “influence” a person in their decision to attend an abortion centre. Holding a sign; distributing leaflets; talking to a woman to offer her help, or simply praying outside an abortion centre will now be a crime.
The judges in the Supreme Court ruled this is appropriate and justifiable, even though it breaches rights of freedom of speech and assembly protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Precious Life will not be deterred by this court ruling. Our legal team are now working on how this ruling can be appealed, and challenged in the European Court of Human Rights.
Meanwhile, we will redouble our efforts in our public awareness campaigns to expose the horrific reality of what abortion does to an innocent baby in the womb.
Our work to protect mothers and babies from abortion has always been peaceful and legal. We will use innovative and creative new methods to continue offering help and support to women outside abortion centres.
In a humane society, the safest place for a baby should be their mother’s womb. Precious Life will work to create ‘safe zones’ for all unborn babies and their mothers throughout Northern Ireland.
The so-called “Abortion Safe Access Zones Bill” was passed in the Northern Ireland Assembly in March with votes from pro-abortionists in Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance UUP, Green Party and PBP. The case was brought to the Supreme Court on the grounds the Bill interferes with the rights of persons who wish to express their opposition to abortion in Northern Ireland. These rights are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. These include the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association guaranteed by Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Convention.
A MOCKERY OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
However. the Court ruled the Assembly can disregard these Human Rights and criminalise women and men who pray outside abortion centres. This ruling makes a mockery of the whole judicial system. While most of our laws provide a “reasonable excuse” defence for someone accused of a crime, this abortion zone law does not. The whole basis of our legal system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. But now, being a pro-life person outside an abortion centre means you’re guilty – full stop! There is no legal defence once a person is charged with this so-called crime.
THREAT TO EVERYONE’S RIGHTS TO FREE SPEECH
The Supreme Court ruling to allow Abortion Zones in Northern Ireland will now be used to ban all pro-life presence outside abortion centres across the UK and Ireland.
This court ruling also has serious implication for the rights to free speech and assembly of ALL people. If pro-life vigils can be banned and criminalised, then public speech, assembly or protest on any other issue can also be banned and criminalised.
Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, assembly and association are fundamental human rights, and must be upheld.