In 2018, lawyers argued before the High Court that laws introduced by local councils designed to prevent harassment and intimidation near abortion facilities were so broadly drafted that they could even criminalise silent prayer i.e. impinge on the most basic of rights — our freedom to think. The High Court referred to that warning as “unattractively contrived”, noting that “in the unlikely event of being prosecuted [the accused] would be able to raise and sustain the defence of reasonable excuse”.
Six years on, the “unlikely event” has become a repeated reality. As dystopian as it may seem, many of us saw the recorded footage of officers confronting Isabel Vaughan-Spruce for standing on a street, alone, thinking thoughts about abortion. The wrong thoughts, according to authorities. She has now been interrogated by West Midlands Police officers on four separate occasions — all of which have involved an alleged offence concerning the contents of the thoughts in the privacy of her mind.