Abortion protestors prosecuted in free speech case
Andy Stephenson and Kathryn Sloane entered a not-guilty plea yesterday (30 Jan) at Brighton Magistrates Court, after being arrested for a demonstration outside an abortion clinic in Brighton on 22 June 2011.
The pro-life campaigners are being prosecuted under Section 5 of the Public Order Act after being arrested for holding signs showing the effects of abortion on the unborn and refusing to take them down.
Mr Stephenson and Miss Sloane have been witnessing outside the publically funded BPAS abortion clinic in Brighton for the past 4 years with other protestors. They show pictures of the reality of abortion, and remain silent, unless approached and engaged in conversation by others.
Mr Stephenson, a father-of-two and a carpenter, from Worthing in East Sussex, said:
"We went to the clinic because we know what women are going in there for and it seems the obvious place to hold a protest.
"We had no desire to be arrested but we sincerely believe this is a legal form of demonstration. We were taken to the local police station where we were treated like common criminals.”
They have pleaded not guilty, arguing that the banners are necessary to educate pregnant girls and women against the ‘misleading’ information given at the BPAS clinic.
After entering their plea, the pair, who are members of anti-abortion group ‘Abort67’, held a further demonstration outside the BPAS Brighton clinic. One of the women attending the clinic that afternoon for a planned termination subsequently changed her mind after discussions with the Abort67 team.
“Women say we’ve changed their minds about abortion when they see what it does to a baby", he said.
Both Mr Stephenson and Miss Sloane are supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“Andy and Kathryn hold respectful demonstrations and they should not be denied the right to share their viewpoint to others. It is important that their freedom of speech is defended robustly.”
Abort67 [warning: contains graphic pictures and videos]