UK army vet may not be prosecuted for praying outside abortion clinic

Adam Smith-Connor, a British physiotherapist and army veteran who in November 2022 was fined for praying silently outside of an abortion clinic. | ADF International

A British army veteran is claiming victory after a court reportedly cleared him of wrongdoing when he was punished for praying outside of an abortion clinic in the United Kingdom.

The Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, which is tasked with enforcing a buffer zone ordinance for a local abortion clinic, has decided to not pursue action against Adam Smith-Connor, according to a press release from the legal group ADF International, a branch of the Alliance Defending Freedom.

According to ADF International, the council will not be pursuing prosecution of Smith-Connor within the statutory time limit after authorities concluded that silently praying outside of an abortion clinic is not an offense.

“I’m glad that, in my case, common-sense policing won the day. However, it’s not right that I had to wait anxiously for a full six months for the authorities to determine my fate. The process, in essence, became my punishment,” stated Smith-Connor.

“It isn’t for the authorities to determine the contents of my thoughts on this matter, on a public street. I served in Afghanistan to defend democratic freedom – and yet, we see this encroachment on fundamental rights on the streets of Britain today.”

The Bournemouth Daily Echo published a story on Wednesday warning that “Smith-Connor’s celebration may be premature,” pointing out that “proceedings can still be activated” against the veteran.

“Summons must be filled with the court for approval within the six month period, but this does not mean the matter must be heard by the court within that time,” explained The Daily Echo.

A council spokesperson told the outlet that “BCP Council reserves the right to take appropriate legal action and are currently following the court processes, however, we cannot comment further on any individual case.”

Last October, the council began enforcing a Public Spaces Protection Order around the British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic of Bournemouth, which barred pro-life protests at the facility.

In November 2022, Smith-Connor silently prayed outside of the clinic in memory of his son, who he paid his then-girlfriend to abort 20 years ago.

Smith-Connor was approached by authorities and eventually fined for violating the ordinance, with the veteran refusing to pay the fine because he felt it violated his rights.

Smith-Connor is one of multiple people who has been punished for peacefully demonstrating outside of abortion clinics in the U.K., leading members of the U.S. Congress to express concern about the climate of religious freedom in the British nation.

In a letter sent in March to Rashad Hussain, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, members of the U.S. House of Representatives argued that the U.K. was “on an unsettling path that could potentially result in existential threats to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even freedom of thought.”

“As the United States and the United Kingdom share a special and uniquely close relationship, it is imperative that the U.S. speak boldly and clearly to its friend when the U.K. has failed to protect unalienable rights,” read the letter, in part.

“A free people do not face legal persecution for exercising a natural right. We strongly condemn the actions of the municipalities and the potential legislation before Parliament to persecute Christians and other pro-life citizens for thought crimes.”

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