A Washington state judge permanently blocked a pro-life ministry known as the Church at Planned Parenthood from peacefully praying outside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Spokane.
In his ruling Wednesday, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Timothy B. Fennessy prohibited the church from holding services within 35 feet of the abortion facility, The Spokesman-Review reports.
His order also banned the Church at Planned Parenthood from holding services between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. while patients still are inside the building.
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“Reasonable minds can only reach one conclusion, that [the Church at Planned Parenthood] intends to interfere with access to or safe and effective delivery of health care services provided by” Planned Parenthood, the judge wrote.
Planned Parenthood and Legal Voice filed a lawsuit against the church in 2020. They claimed the pro-life Christians are bullying patients and staff and interfering with Planned Parenthood’s work.
They also claimed the pro-life ministry has been “interfering with patients’ access to healthcare,” because patients sometimes can hear pro-lifers from inside the building.
However, leaders of The Church at Planned Parenthood say they are not protesters. Their purpose is to worship God and pray for repentance “of our blood guiltiness in this abortion holocaust.”
City police said they have not had problems with the pro-life church, the Spokesman Review reported last year.
Pro-life sidewalk counselors, pro-life protests and other outreaches are overwhelmingly peaceful, and Church at Planned Parenthood leaders said they conduct their worship services after Planned Parenthood closes for the evening.
“I think the ruling is unconstitutional,” Ken Peters, founder and director of the pro-life ministry, told the local news.
Peters said they will comply with the judge’s order, but they also are talking with lawyers about a potential appeal. He expressed hope that the “unconstitutional” restrictions on their ministry will motivate more people to get involved.
“That’s going to stir up Christians, patriots, constitutionalists, Trump supporters. We’re already getting super-backed into a corner and ticked off,” Peters said. “It’s only going to stir us up more, and it’s only going to make us more aggressive and make us grow our movement.”
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 2020, 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.
Recently, the ministry also began holding services outside abortion facilities in other states, including Tennessee and Georgia.
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.