Free speech violations on college campuses continue to make the news, and for good reason. Students for Life of America’s (SLFA) findings last year pointed towards the second most significant issue among pro-lifers on campus: speech censorship by school administrations.
This issue isn’t isolated to school campuses in the United States. Recently, UK Christian preacher Stephen Green was prosecuted and convicted for breaking the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in October 2023.
What was his crime, one might ask? Peacefully holding a sign with a Bible verse outside of an abortion vendor in Mattock Lane, West Longdon, within the buffer zone – a location around an abortion vendor designated by government officials.
No, it wasn’t a passage in Leviticus describing animal sacrifice or Judges detailing a bloody, gruesome battle.
On Green’s sign, he displayed Psalm 139:13 that stated: “For thou hast possessed my reins; thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.”
A more modern translation reads: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
The same Bible verse that’s commonly displayed on home decor, bumper stickers, apparel, and baby showers is interpreted as intimidation by pro-abortion media outlets and government entities.
A beautiful sentence became a criminal sentence.
But in the UK, you don’t have to say, write, or hold anything to be arrested. All you must do is pray outside of an abortion business.
It’s situations like UK veteran Adam Smith-Connor, who silently prayed outside of an abortion facility for his lost child, was charged for displaying an “Unborn Lives Matter” bumper sticker. He was later charged for holding up a sign saying, “Praying for Freedom of Speech” at an abortion facility outside of business hours. Thankfully, they dropped the charges, but Green wasn’t so fortunate. He received a 12-month conditional discharge and was required to pay £2,426.
A PREDICTION OF THINGS TO COME?
It would be ignorant for Americans to believe this couldn’t happen in the U.S. The U.S. doesn’t look much different than the UK and likely won’t change anytime soon.
Last year, the Department of Homeland Security proposed training-style videos to identify threatening pro-lifers, with one scenario being middle-aged pro-life women.
It might just be a training video, one might say, but examine the increase in arrests for pro-lifers outside of abortion facilities.
The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice shows a dramatic increase in “criminal” activity outside of abortion facilities. In 2019, only two cases exist. Fast forward, there are over two dozen cases between 2022 and 2023, some of which hold decade-long prison sentences.
The list includes crimes committed against both pro-abortion activists and pro-lifers, although most incidents target pro-abortion activists. Two notable examples are provided below.
Recently, six pro-lifers were charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. They face an 11-year prison sentence. One of these pro-lifers was Paul Vaughn, a father who sang and prayed outside a Nashville abortion facility.
A story that made the news and documented by the Department of Justice outlines vandalism against three pro-life pregnancy centers in Florida, including messages saying, “If abortions aren’t safe than neither are you,” and “We’re coming for U.”
Which is the true crime? Singing hymns, praying to God and holding up Bible verses, or vandalizing resource centers and threatening staff?
The answer should be evident to everyone. Yet, the Department of Justice and pro-abortion courts across the globe will increasingly paint religious and moral convictions as a crime. In America, the FACE Act and Conspiracy of Rights Act are wielded as weapons against pro-lifers peacefully protesting, praying, singing or handing out pregnancy resources.
While it is crucial to acknowledge and stay informed about violations occurring off campus and in other countries, taking a stand against free speech infringements on U.S. college campuses establishes a precedent for pro-lifers, particularly SFLA, who are committed to defending the rights to free speech and life. SFLA actively supports and fights alongside pro-lifers whose First Amendment rights have been violated.
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