A Washington judge granted a preliminary injunction favoring Planned Parenthood in its lawsuit against a church community that holds a service once per month outside the abortion facility.
On Monday, Spokane Superior Court Judge Raymond Clary issued the injunction requiring the Christian community called “The Church at Planned Parenthood” (TCAPP) to move its monthly service across the street from the abortion clinic, or at least 35 feet from the building.
Clary also ordered the church community to begin its services at least one hour after Planned Parenthood’s business hours end at 6:00 p.m.
“The right to protest does not include protesting to shut Planned Parenthood down or to harass its patients and health care providers,” Clary wrote, according to the Spokesman-Review.
Planned Parenthood claimed the church services are not protected by the First Amendment because they interfere with patient services at the clinic, KREM News reported.
Legal Voice Attorney Kim Clark, who represented Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho (PPGWNI), said, the decision 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.”
Since 2018, TCAPP has been holding its regular service adjacent to the PPGWNI facility. The congregation sometimes consists of hundreds of attendees.
On its website, The Church at Planned Parenthood states it is “NOT a protest. It’s a worship service at the gates of Hell”:
The Church at Planned Parenthood is a gathering of Christians for the worship of God and the corporate prayer for repentance for this nation, repentance for the apathetic church and repentance of our blood guiltiness in this abortion holocaust.
“This is great news for patients and staff, this is a huge victory and we’re thrilled to see the judge’s order,” said Paul Dillon, a PPGWNI spokesman, according to the news report. “The laws are very clear in Washington about interference with a health care facility, and The Church at Planned Parenthood has completely disregarded the laws that were established with good reason.”
— PPGWNI (@PPGWNI) September 22, 2020
TCAPP Attorney Tracy Tribbett argued, however, the church community’s free speech is at issue.
“Plaintiffs do not like the speech that is occurring outside of their walls, they want it completely eradicated,” she said. “People do not picket away from the place where they have an issue.”
In March, the Spokane City Council responded to TCAPP’s demonstrations by passing an ordinance intended to limit noise and disturbances at healthcare facilities.
Planned Parenthood has accused the Spokane Police Department of not enforcing the ordinance, reported KREM News.