A government minister has defended sharing a social media post falsely claiming a woman had been arrested for praying.
It comes after Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, director of Britain’s anti-abortion charity March for Life, was arrested outside an abortion clinic in Birmingham for allegedly violating a restricted zone around the clinic.
Buffer zones will be set up around abortion clinics in England and Wales following a vote in Parliament in October.
The law prohibits harassment, obstruction, or disturbance of women attending an abortion clinic.
Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, who voted against the zones, shared a post on Twitter with video of Ms Vaughan-Spruce’s arrest, in which the anti-abortion activist tells police she is “possibly praying in my head.” “.
She was then arrested and later charged by police after violating a public space order four times.
In a post on Twitter, Ms Caulfield, Under Secretary of State for Women, said: “People have been telling me I’m exaggerating when I say that Christians are being arrested on the streets of England with buffer zone legislation.
“A Christian country at Christmas and the police arrest some for saying a prayer”.
People have told me I am exaggerating when I say Christians are being arrested on the streets of England under the buffer zone legislation. A Christian country at Christmas and the police arrest some for saying a silent prayer
— Maria Caulfield MP (@mariacaulfield) December 23, 2022
Ms Caulfield’s post drew criticism from Lewes District Council Green Councilor Emily O’Brien, who condemned the post as “justifying harassment of women”.
Ms O’Brien, who is also the Green Party candidate for Lewes in the next general election, said: “It is disappointing to see that our local MP has not retracted her much criticized tweet which is untrue and justifies the harassment of women.
“She is entitled to personal views on abortion, but she simply cannot be a government minister for women if she doesn’t leave those views at the door.”
However, Ms Caulfield said she stood by her comments and said they had “nothing to do with my views on abortion”.
She said: “I’ve had a lot of support from people who are frustrated that protesters can disrupt the lives of others when they go to work, the hospital or important appointments by repeatedly sticking themselves to the street and getting away with it, but someone is arrested immediately for allegedly praying.
“This has nothing to do with my views on abortion.
“Given that religion is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, I really urge people to watch the video and ask themselves if this is the society we want to become.”
Vaughan-Spruce has been released on bail and will appear in Birmingham Magistrates’ Court in February.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/23216211.lewes-mp-criticised-sharing-video-prayer-arrest/?ref=rss Lewes MP slammed for sharing video of ‘prayer arrest’