Can local authorities ban a silent prayer on a public sidewalk in front of a pre-abortion advisory center?
That’s the question the pro-life advocacy group 40 Days for Life in Pforzheim, Germany, will ask a national court on May 12 after they were barred from gathering to peacefully pray near the center.
Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADFI), a faith-based legal advocacy organization, are representing the pro-life group at their hearing.
“I want to be there to pray, not for myself, but for the vulnerable women contemplating abortion, and for their unborn children. This topic really touches my heart, as I know the pain of losing a child. Our society must offer better support to mothers in difficult situations. Every life is valuable and deserves protection. Surely a simple prayer for the vulnerable cannot be banned?” said Pavica Vojnović, the leader of the prayer group.
Two years ago, Vojnović explained she was shocked to hear that the local municipality had suddenly denied permission for their group to hold vigils near the Pro Familia pre-abortion advisory center.
Twice a year, around 20 people had gathered to pray for the women facing abortion, and the lives of their unborn children. The vigils took place for 40 days– silently and peacefully.
Despite Vojnović applying for and being granted all of the necessary permissions for their previous vigils, the municipality has prevented them from praying near the facility for the past 2 years.
The group was not preventing anybody from entering the building, nor were they blocking the pavement in the surrounding area. The prayer vigils were peaceful throughout the 40 days. When monitored by the police at the request of “Pro Familia”, no violations were found; and yet, the management of the pre-abortion counseling center requested that the vigil be moved some distance away, or banned altogether.
Censorship of Pro-Life Message Growing Across Europe
Silencing of the “pro-life” message has been a reoccurring issue across Europe – from censorship zones around abortion facilities to the exclusion of “pro-life” student voices on university campuses, according to ADF International.
“What kind of society withholds prayer for vulnerable women and children? By prohibiting even silent prayer near a pre-abortion counseling center, the Pforzheim authorities have gone beyond what could be considered reasonable or proportionate. Freedom of speech is the foundation of every free and fair democracy,” said Dr. Felix Böllmann, legal counsel for ADF International. “Whether or not they agree with Pavica’s views, everyone can support the importance of these foundational protections. We hope the court will agree and affirm these rights at the hearing.”
Watch the video below about the case by Alliance Defending Freedom International. English subtitled: