WATCH: Moment army veteran is challenged by officers over 'silently praying' near abortion clinic

A man who was stood silently in a street said he was ‘praying for my son, who is deceased’

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An army veteran has been fined for silently praying for his son outside an abortion clinic in Bournemouth.

Adam Smith-Connor was stood on a public street for a few minutes before being approached by community safety accredited officers.

He allegedly had his back turned away from the clinic in respect of the staff and those attending the abortion facility on Ophir Road.

A censorship zone or “buffer zone” has been enforced since 13 October 2022 by local authorities through a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).

The order criminalises engaging in “an act” or even “attempted act” of “approval/disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means”.

This includes graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counselling.

Adam Smith-Connor was fined after officers confronted him on a street in Bournemouth
Adam Smith-Connor was fined after officers confronted him on a street in Bournemouth

In video footage officers can been seen asking Smith-Connor what he was doing, to which he replied: "Praying for my son, who is deceased”.

He has now been issued a fine by Bournemouth Council based on his statement which breaches the PSPO.

The army veteran says he was reflecting on a “pivotal” moment in his life when he drove his ex-girlfriend to have an abortion.

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 realised 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."

Smith-Connor is the second person to be penalised for “silent prayer” alongside Isabel Vaughan-Spruce who said she “might” have be praying in a video that emerged last month.

She was then arrested on suspicion of “failing to comply “with a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), in what has been branded by critics as a “thoughtcrime”.

The charity volunteer is due to appear before Birmingham Magistrates on February 2.

Legal organisation ADF UK is calling on the Home Secretary to 'protect freedom of thought'
Legal organisation ADF UK is calling on the Home Secretary to 'protect freedom of thought'

Faith-based legal advocacy organisation, ADF UK is challenging the fine and has also launched a public letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman urging her to “protect freedom of thought and avoid the roll out of national censorship zones.”

Jeremiah Igunnubole, Legal Counsel for ADF UK said: “Nobody should be criminalised for what they believe – especially not when they express that belief silently, in the privacy of their own minds.

“Just like in the case of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce last month, Adam could now face prosecution for holding thoughts, and lifting those thoughts to God in prayer, within a censorship zone.

“The rapid proliferation of orders criminalising volunteers such as Adam and Isabel should be a wake up call to all those who value freedom of expression – even freedom of thought – no matter their views on abortion.”