A “40 Days for Life” group is challenging the German town of Pforzheim for prohibiting prayer outside a pre-abortion advisory center.
Twice a year, about 20 members of 40 Days for Life gather every day for 40 days in Pforzheim (about 45 minutes northwest of Stuttgart) to pray for pregnant women and their unborn babies. For three years, the group had held peaceful vigils outside Pro Familia, a place where pregnant women are often counseled to abort their children. But in 2019, the group was told by the local municipality that they could no longer stand outside the center to pray—despite being granted all the necessary permissions beforehand.
“I want to be there to pray, not for myself, but for the vulnerable women contemplating abortion, and for their unborn children,” said Pavica Vojnović, leader of 40 Days for Life in Pforzheim. “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?”
According to ADF International, Vojnović and her group were not preventing anyone from entering the building, nor were they blocking the pavement in the surrounding area. Even the police confirmed that all group members were following the law. But local officials refused to allow 40 Days for Life to return.
“What kind of society withholds prayer for vulnerable women and children?” said Dr. Felix Böllmann, legal counsel for ADF International. “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. Pavica and her group have a deeply-held belief on abortion. To hold this belief is a fundamental right, as is the right to express this through peaceful assembly. Whether or not they agree with Pavica’s views, everyone can support the importance of these foundational protections.”