A judge has issued a permanent injunction prohibiting members of a pro-life church from demonstrating outside a Spokane Planned Parenthood facility. According to The Spokesman-Review, Judge Timothy B. Fennessy ruled that “reasonable minds can only reach one conclusion, that Covenant Church intends to interfere with access to or safe and effective delivery of health care services provided by Planned Parenthood.”
The Church at Planned Parenthood is a group run by Covenant Church, and is known for holding worship services in protest of abortion on a stretch of grass located across the street from the abortion facility. With the judge’s order, the group is now prevented from gathering on that grass, on the sidewalk, or anywhere within 35 feet of the facility. They are also prohibited from making noise between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
According to KXLY, Planned Parenthood first filed an injunction against the group in 2020. The abortion facility claimed that the church’s loud music and demonstrations interfered with patient care. A judge issued a temporary injunction following that suit. In July 2021, Planned Parenthood filed for a permanent injunction, which Judge Fennessy just granted.
Planned Parenthood released a statement following news of the injunction:
While Planned Parenthood respects the right to protest and peaceful assembly, the First Amendment does not protect conduct that is intended to interfere with patient care.
The negative health effects of excessive noise on patients in health care settings are well-documented. These hazards include an increased risk of hypertension, increased pain, and a variety of psychiatric symptoms — all of which are likely to be even more pronounced for patients seeking care from a reproductive health clinic.
TCAPP has repeatedly violated the Washington state law (RCW 9A.50.020) that prohibits “willfully or recklessly disrupt[ing] the normal functioning of a health care facility” by, among other things, “making noise that unreasonably disturbs the peace within the facility.
The church describes itself as “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.”
Ken Peters, the founder and director of the Church at Planned Parenthood, told The Spokesman-Review that he isn’t surprised by the ruling, describing the judge as “leftist” in what is “typical” for Washington state. “I think the ruling is unconstitutional,” he said.
Despite his disagreement with the ruling, Peters said he is willing to comply until he figures out what to do next. “Even though we feel like the judge is unconstitutional, do we want to pick this battle right now? And I think that, at this moment, no, until I get some more legal advice and pray about it, I don’t want to defy this order,” he said.
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