A British Army veteran who is being criminally prosecuted for silently praying outside an abortion clinic has had his trial delayed for the second time.
Adam Smith-Connor was set to appear in court last November, but the hearing was postponed until January 18 and 19, 2024.
However, the court hearing has now been delayed for the second time at the request of Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole Council who claimed a two-day hearing would be insufficient time to “cover the complexities of the matter,” Alliance Defending Freedom UK reports.
“Adam prayed silently on the street for about three minutes, yet BCP Council have argued that they need a full three days to prosecute this apparent ‘crime’. Adam’s ordeal has now lasted well over a year. The lengthy and grueling process has become the punishment, and is continuing to impact his life, for only having prayed in the privacy of his mind,” the group which is representing Smith-Connor, said in a statement.
As CBN News reported, the army veteran and father of two was fined by local English authorities for praying for a son he lost to abortion last November.
Smith-Connor was in an area of an abortion clinic in the town of Bournemouth that was under a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).
A PSPO is described by the ADF UK as a censorship zone or a “buffer zone” that criminalizes engaging in “an act” or even an “attempted act” of “approval/disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services.”
This includes but is not limited to “graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counseling” within the area surrounding an abortion facility. It also prohibits religious acts, including reading scripture or even crossing oneself.
Although Smith-Connor was assured by officers that his actions were legal, he was charged for praying silently for women and children affected by abortion because he was within the abortion clinic’s ‘buffer zone.”
Smith-Connor told the ADF UK he never imagined he might have a criminal record just for praying.
He said, “22 years ago I drove my ex-girlfriend to a facility and paid for her to have an abortion. It was a pivotal moment in my life. The consequences of my actions that day came back to grieve me years later when I realized I had lost my son Jacob to an abortion I had paid for. Recently, I stood outside a similar facility and prayed to God for my son Jacob, for other babies who have lost their lives to abortion, for their grieving families, and for abortion clinic staff.”
“I would never have imagined being in a position to risk a criminal record for praying silently. In the past, I assisted with abortions in hospitals as part of my army medical training, but now I pray for those who perform abortions because I realize how harmful abortion is to women and families, and that every single human life is valuable – no matter how small. Most of all, I’m moved to pray because of what happened to my son, Jacob,” he continued.
Smith-Connor pled not guilty to the charges.
“This case is important as it has repercussions for what kind of a society we want to be in the future – one that values freedom, or one that criminalizes thought? I served in the army reserves for 20 years, including in Afghanistan, to protect fundamental freedoms – I never thought I’d have to defend such a basic right for myself here at home,” he said.
Smith-Connor’s attorneys with the ADF UK say they are “witnessing a modern-day ‘thought crime’ trial”.
“According to the rules of the censorship zone in which he was praying, if Adam were thinking about any other issue – the economy, immigration, or healthcare, for example – he wouldn’t have been fined. It was the nature of his thoughts, his silent prayer, that got him in legal trouble,” said ADF.
His trial will now take place over three days, with the new dates to be determined by Poole Magistrates’ Court at a hearing on January 18.
Meanwhile, the UK’s West Midlands Police dropped charges against the co-director of March for Life UK, Isabel Vaughn-Spruce, for silently praying within an abortion facility “buffer zone.”
As CBN News reported, the charges were dropped shortly after UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman published an open letter directing police departments across the country to avoid politicized policing, the ADF UK said.
The vast majority of police officers work incredibly hard for the British people.
But police getting involved in politically contentious matters is shaking public confidence.
I’ve written to policing leaders to remind them of the importance of remaining impartial 1/2 pic.twitter.com/E8kQNlLSNz
— Suella Braverman MP (@SuellaBraverman) September 2, 2023