Judge orders church services outside Planned Parenthood clinic to move across the street

The exterior of a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen on May 31, 2019, in St Louis, Missouri.
The exterior of a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen on May 31, 2019, in St Louis, Missouri. | Michael Thomas/Getty Images

A church operating outside an abortion clinic in Washington state will continue to hold services directly adjacent to the facility after a court order was issued this week and forced it to make changes.

A Washington Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction Monday ordering the Church at Planned Parenthood, a monthly service held outside a Planned Parenthood facility in Spokane organized by Covenant Church, to move its services across the street from the facility and coordinate service times to avoid coinciding with the clinic’s hours of operation.

The ruling comes three months after Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho filed a lawsuit against the church and five of its pastors and leaders accused of “recklessly disrupting the normal functioning of a health care facility by ‘making noise that unreasonably disrupts the piece within the facility.’”

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“The court’s decision today recognizes the importance of meaningful access to healthcare for all Washingtonians,” the Planned Parenthood affiliate tweeted in response to the ruling. 

The chief executive of the regional Planned Parenthood organization had previously referred to TCAPP worshippers as “bullies who are trying to take away care from young women, men, the LGBTQ community and black, indigenous people of color in Spokane.”

The Church at Planned Parenthood, founded in 2018, describes itself as “a worship service at the gates of Hell” and “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.”

TCAPP attorney Tracy Tribbett responded to the court decision by implying that officials at the local Planned Parenthood want to take away their First Amendment rights.

“Plaintiffs (Planned Parenthood) do not like the speech that is occurring outside of their walls, they want it completely eradicated,” Tribett said in a statement. “People do not picket away from the place where they have an issue.”

Planned Parenthood officials “are scared of our prayers and our worship,” Ken Peters, the pastor of Covenant Church, contended in a previous interview with The Christian Post. 

“We aren’t there to bother them, we are there to touch Heaven and be a light to the world,” Peters explained. “We are there to be a prophetic statement that ‘we, the church’ don’t approve of killing life inside the womb.”

On Tuesday, just one day after the ruling, Peters announced on Twitter that a TCAPP service was taking place that evening but with modifications to accommodate the court order.

“ATTENTION: Due to Judge’s Leftist Order … New Service Time for TCAPP Tonight! You are welcome to come pray at 6 pm BUT the ACTUAL WORSHIP Service starts at 7!”

Based on a picture posted on social media by Peters of the Tuesday night service, the court ruling did not hamper turnout. 

In a statement, Spokane Police Department Sgt. Terry Preuninger said that the court did not grant law enforcement authority to criminally enforce violations of the injunction. Preuninger said the department will “report any suspected violations of the civil injunction” to the court for review. 

He vowed the police “will continue to work to protect people and property, ensure the health center is able to operate without disruption and to enforce local and state laws.”

According to Peters, the battle is not over. He is willing to take the legal battle to the Supreme Court if necessary. The pastor commented on the court order in a video posted Monday. 

Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit not only seeks a permanent injunction against the church services but also seeks damages of $5,000 per day “for each day that defendants interfered with Plaintiff’s operation.”

Peters is hardly the only pro-life activist that has tried to send a message to Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider.  

Independent journalist Tayler Hansen has started the “Baby Lives Matter” movement. Hansen hoping to raise awareness for the hundreds of thousands of unborn babies aborted at Planned Parenthood facilities every year by painting murals in front of Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide that read “Baby Lives Matter.”

Earlier this month, pro-life activists in Baltimore, Maryland who are not affiliated with the “Baby Lives Matter” movement, painted a mural with the words “Black Preborn Lives Matter” in front of their local Planned Parenthood clinic.

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