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A Christian man who was arrested for praying peacefully outside an abortion clinic in the UK has had charges against him dropped.

Christian Hacking, who was confined to a wheelchair after breaking his back from a rock-climbing incident, was arrested in August this year after allegedly breaching a “Public Spaces Protection Order” near an abortion clinic in London.

Christian Concern reported that:

Police warned Christian and his friend that merely being on the green outside of the clinic was a breach of the PSPO.

After this, his friend leaves, but Christian can be heard saying, “I’m going to continue praying. I’m in this place because they’re killing human beings inside this clinic, it is against the law to ban anyone praying anywhere in this land. The PSPO has been built upon false grounds, false harassment, fake news, I don’t respect it. I don’t think you have a constitutional right to stop someone from praying, so I’m going to continue praying here until you remove me, forcibly or whatever, because what’s more important is that God’s law is upheld in this nation and not the law of those who govern this nation and not this ludicrous law that says people can’t pray.”

Christian then asked for clarification from the police officer over whether it was a criminal offence to pray in that location. The officer said: “l’m saying you’re in breach of the court order.” Christian responded: “So it’s a criminal offence to pray, according to the court order, it’s a criminal offence to pray outside of a place where children are being killed?” The officer then merely stated: “I believe that I’ve given you the answer.”

Police requested that Christian stand, but he responded: “I can’t stand up, I’m in a wheelchair. I’m not moving, I’m praying. I’m not going to capitulate to your demands. I am allowed to pray here. This earth was the Lord’s before it was Ealing Council’s.”

Christian Concern reported that four officers then carried Christian by his arms and legs and placed him into a police riot vehicle. Christian was taken to a police station where he was imprisoned for eight hours before being released on bail.

Charges against the 29-year-old were subsequently dropped by the Crown Prosecution Office.

“To be treated like a criminal and imprisoned for eight hours for praying is ludicrous”, said Christian.

“My Christian faith calls me to defend the voiceless and what more peaceful way can I achieve this than through prayer. If abortion providers don’t want me praying outside their clinic they should buy the land and ring fence it. Not arrest people for doing what they don’t like on public property.

“I do not regret what I did, and urge the Church to pray more, not less outside of clinics until the killing stops. Surely we, as a nation, can give women in a crisis something better than abortion. 

“I care deeply about all the families who attend abortion clinics and will continue to do what it takes, no matter what, until this silent genocide of innocent children ends,” he added.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said that it is astonishing that vital police resources have been used to arrest and detain a man in a wheelchair for peacefully praying outside an abortion clinic.

“The alleged purpose of the PSPO legislation was to prevent harassment despite there never having been evidence to show that women have been harassed. The authorities now seem to think that even prayer is harassment. Christian did not harass anybody, and his arrest was just plain wrong.

“The footage of four police officers carrying a disabled man and his wheelchair to a riot van, simply for praying, is deeply disturbing. Its intended effect is to silence any opposition to what is going on in the clinic. Christian’s arrest will have the opposite result.

“Christian took a courageous stand outside of the clinic motivated by God’s love for each and every one of us and especially for women in crisis pregnancies and their children.  What does it say about our society when peaceful compassion for life is treated by arrest and imprisonment?

“We call on Ealing Council to review their policy around the buffer zone and for free speech and free movement to be properly restored to the area.”

Meanwhile in South Australia, upper house MPs have approved legislation to impose a 150 metre restriction around “protected premises”, including abortion clinics.  The proposed measure, which now awaits the verdict of the state’s lower house, will restrict the ability of persons to provide last minute support to women during this difficult time. 

The WA government recently concluded a public consultation on exclusion zone laws, in the hope of imposing them across WA. The submissions to this inquiry have not yet been made public.

There are similar 150m restriction zones in place around abortion clinics in NT, Queensland, NSW, and ACT, and 50m zones in Tasmania.