UK: Man criminally charged for praying for ‘son lost to abortion’

A man in the UK has been criminally charged for praying near an abortion clinic and is expected to face trial in the coming weeks.  

Adam Smith-Connor was approached by police officers as he stood in silence in a so-called ‘buffer zone’ outside the abortion facility on Orphir Road in Bournemouth silently praying for his son who he says was lost in an abortion years before.  

The army veteran has expressed regret for having financed the abortion which ended the life of the unborn child. 



“It’s unthinkable that I was issued a penalty simply for praying for my son, Jacob, whom I lost to an abortion I paid for. The decision I made all those years ago now grieves me deeply. I was praying also for those contemplating abortion, especially those in vulnerable situations who believe abortion is their “only choice”. It isn’t for the authorities to determine the contents of my thoughts on this matter, on a public street”, he said. 

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) who are providing legal representation for Smith-Connor said his first hearing will take place in the Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court on 9th August where he is expected to enter a plea of “not guilty” before the court sets a date for trial. 

ADF UK Legal Counsel  Jeremiah Igunnubole said “In permitting the prosecution of silent prayer, we are sailing into dangerous waters regarding human rights protections in the UK. Censorship zones are inherently wrong and engender unhelpful legal confusion regarding the right to free thought. Both domestic and international law have long established freedom of thought as an absolute right that must not ever be interfered with by the state,” 

On learning that he was to be prosecuted Smith-Conner said, “Nobody should be prosecuted for silent prayer. It is unfathomable that in an apparently free society, I am being criminally charged on the basis of what I expressed silently, in the privacy of my own mind”

 “I served for 20 years in the army reserves, including a tour in Afghanistan, to protect the fundamental freedoms that this country is built upon. I continue that spirit of service as a healthcare professional and church volunteer. It troubles me greatly to see our freedoms eroded to the extent that thoughtcrimes are now being prosecuted in the UK,”

ADF UK says their client was issued “a fixed penalty notice” on 13th December 2022 detailing that he had been “praying for his deceased son” a month earlier on 24th November 2022. 

As Gript previously reported a woman who was cleared of all charges in a Birmingham court was arrested again for engaging in silent prayer near an abortion clinic, with officers telling her: “you’ve been engaging in prayer, which is the offence”.

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce spoke to Gript about her experience of being arrested for praying outside an abortion clinic. 



In a similar case, Catholic priest Father Sean Gough was arrested after he held a sign saying “praying for free speech” outside a closed abortion facility in Birmingham. 

Fr. Sean Gough was charged with “intimidating service users” and received a further charge for having a small sticker on his car saying “unborn lives matter”.

Speaking about his ordeal, the young priest said “I pray wherever I go, inside my head, for the people around me. How can it be a crime for a priest to pray?”

He added that it was “deeply undemocratic to censor public streets, particularly those spaces where we know that many women have benefitted from peaceful offers of help about services available,”. 

ADF said that while The Crown Prosecution Service eventually dropped the charges against the priest it was “made clear that they could be reinstated”. 

Igunnubole said, “The process in and of itself has become the punishment for people like Father Sean, who face onerous legal battles simply for holding peaceful views in certain public spaces, against the will of authorities. Nobody should be criminalised for peaceful activities like praying for the state of free speech in our country, or having a simple bumper sticker on their car that expresses a belief that ‘unborn lives matter’”

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