A Washington state judge blocked a pro-life church from holding services outside Planned Parenthood on Monday after the abortion chain complained that the services have a negative impact on patients.
KREM News 2 reports the state Superior Court judge granted Planned Parenthood a temporary injunction against The Church at Planned Parenthood, a pro-life ministry that holds regular worship services on the public sidewalk outside its Spokane facility.
Planned Parenthood and Legal Voice filed a lawsuit against the church in June. They claimed the pro-life Christians are bullying patients and staff and interfering with Planned Parenthood’s work.
“The court’s decision today recognizes the importance of meaningful access to healthcare for all Washingtonians,” Legal Voice attorney Kim Clark said in a statement. “Patients cannot focus on their health if they are distracted, or anxious, or afraid. This is especially important at a reproductive healthcare center that serves a community that already faces systemic inequities in access to healthcare and health outcomes, and where the care being provided is highly stigmatized.”
According to the local news, Planned Parenthood accused the church-goers of creating “excessive” noise that led to increased risk of hypertension, increased pain and a variety of psychiatric symptoms in its patients.
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The lawsuit targets the church and its leaders, including state Rep. Matt Shea, Covenant Church and Covenant Christian School, Pastors Ken Peters, Gabe Blomgren and Seth Haberman, and Clay Roy.
“These are not protesters – they are bullies who are trying to take away care from young women, men, the LGBTQ community and Black, Indigenous, people of color in Spokane,” said Karl Eastlund, who runs the Washington abortion branch, in a statement. “Enough is enough.”
The church leaders also say they are not protesters. Their purpose is to worship God and pray for repentance “of our blood guiltiness in this abortion holocaust.” Sometimes hundreds of people gather to worship with The Church at Planned Parenthood in Spokane, according to the local news.
The lawsuit accused the Christian ministry of upsetting patients, including one who allegedly began crying when she heard the megaphone and music outside.
“The staff ultimately had to move this patient, like many others, to another room. Moving a patient requires her to get dressed and undressed again. It also requires the patient to wait until there is another room available where the noise level is lower,” the lawsuit claims.
Planned Parenthood asked the courts to permanently ban the church from gathering on the public sidewalks outside its Spokane facility and to award it damages for the alleged disturbances, according to the report.
But Peters said the claims about disrupting patients do not make sense because their church services start when Planned Parenthood closes.
“They’re not even open,” he said. “We start at 6 o’clock; they close at 6.”
The abortion chain told the Spokesman Review that it does close its doors at 6 p.m., but patients sometimes are there until 7 p.m.
City police said they have not had problems with the church, the Spokesman Review reported earlier this year. Pro-life sidewalk counselors, pro-life protests and other outreaches are overwhelmingly peaceful.
The Church at Planned Parenthood describes itself as a “gathering of Christians for the worship of God and corporate prayer for repentance for this nation, repentance for the apathetic church, and repentance for our blood guiltiness in this abortion holocaust,” according to its website.
Since the church formed in 2018, abortion activists have been trying to restrict its life-saving work. In March, the Spokane City Council voted to expand a noise ordinance outside abortion facilities and health care facilities in the city. Pro-life leaders believe the vote directly targeted pro-life sidewalk counselors and the Church at Planned Parenthood.
Last year, in an interview with Prayer Link, a CBN talk show, Peters said he staunchly believes that the pro-life movement will succeed in the battle to protect the defenseless.
“The Bible says that hell will not prevail against the church, but I think if the church does not engage, then hell has free reign. So, what we’re doing is taking church right to the gates of hell knowing that we will win,” he said.