After charges that he intimidated service users near an abortion clinic were dropped, a Catholic priest claims "silent prayer" is now illegal.
Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, a volunteer for a charity, and Father Sean Gough both had four charges against them at Birmingham Magistrates' Court.
But according to prosecutor Ekene Pruce, both of these cases failed to pass what is known as the "full code test" for prosecutors.
Everybody has the right to pray in their minds, according to Mr. Gough.
The two were accused of violating a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) on dates in October, November, and December and were scheduled to appear at separate court hearings on Thursday.
Ms. Vaughan-Spruce, a resident of Malvern, Worcestershire, and Fr. Gough, a priest at the St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic Church in Wolverhampton, were both charged with "protesting and engaging in an act that is intimidating to service users" at a clinic in Birmingham.
Ms. Pruce refused to comment when District Judge David Wain questioned her about why the full code test had not been satisfied. ".
The evaluation determines whether prosecutions are in the public interest and whether there is enough evidence to create a reasonable chance of conviction.
After the hearing, Mr. Gough said he was relieved to have been found not guilty and that he still believed that the lives of unborn children matter.
It is improper for the government to prohibit areas of the street from peacefully engaging in prayer, even silent prayer, as well as peacefully conversing with one another and exchanging information that might be extremely helpful to women seeking an alternative to abortion.
I was charged for pleading for the right to free speech and for an old bumper sticker that said, "Unborn lives matter," that was on my car. ".
"If the government establishes censorship zones around every abortion facility in the nation, as they are considering doing with the Public Order Bill that is currently being discussed, who knows how many more people are going to stand trial, how many people are going to be put in prison for providing assistance, for praying in their minds, or for other such offenses," he continued.
"I urge the government to take a closer look at the overwhelmingly beneficial work that the vast majority of pro-life organizations do to assist vulnerable women in their hour of need, rather than censor the UK's streets and permit good people to be criminalized for acts of love. ".
For having private thoughts on a public street, Ms. Vaughan-Spruce claimed she had been "arrested and criminalized.".
"Those who are attempting to provide alternatives are being branded as criminals and told that their conduct is anti-social," she continued.
"What is profoundly anti-social is that in 2023, some members of our society are still being denied their most basic rights, including the right to life. ".
In England, Scotland, and Wales, abortions are legal during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
MPs supported the idea of enforcing buffer zones around abortion clinics in England and Wales in October. This would make "harassing, obstructing, or interfering" with any woman who is visiting an abortion clinic a crime.