The Church at Planned Parenthood, which is an anti-abortion group that previously held gatherings directly outside of a Planned Parenthood location in Spokane, Washington, where attendees were sometimes armed, is now responsible for nearly $1 million in financial penalties in connection to litigation brought by the reproductive healthcare organization against the group, reports say.
The costs include some $110,000 in civil damages and $850,000 in legal fees, reports, including from The Spokesman-Review in Washington, indicated. The arm of Planned Parenthood evidently responsible for the Spokane clinic and set to benefit from the payments is Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho. A judge in Washington found that demonstrations staged by the extremists violated state law via their effects on patients receiving care. There are similar restrictions on the actions of anti-abortion demonstrators under federal law. Ken Peters, a pastor who has been involved in the activities of The Church at Planned Parenthood, inaccurately characterized the group’s disputed demonstrations as lawful and indicated a commitment to the cause in comments on social media about what have become hefty financial obligations, which it seems insurance will at least partly cover.
“I would do it again,” Peters wrote. “It’s a badge of honor.” Paul Dillon, who’s with the Planned Parenthood arm behind the Spokane clinic, was optimistic. “This is a critical victory for Planned Parenthood at a time of historical attacks on abortion access,” he said. “We are so thankful for the work of Legal Voice as well as the overwhelming support of the community. We are proud to provide a safe, welcoming environment for our employees and our patients, so they can get the high quality health care they need. No one should ever face the threat of harassment and intimidation because they are seeking or providing health care. Our doors are open today, and they will stay open to provide the compassionate care that our patients need and deserve in Spokane and across the region.”
Washington is among the states that generally allow abortions. Whether individual states do or don’t permit the procedure has become the key question since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, returning power to make further-reaching decisions on access to the procedure to the states. Elsewhere, New York state legislators recently provided their required second approval to a proposed amendment to their state Constitution that would help further protect abortion rights there, and it is now set to go before New Yorkers next year. In the midterm elections last year, voters in several states, including California and Michigan, approved similarly designed amendments to their states’ guiding documents.
While these locales largely already protect access to abortion, putting these protections into the states’ Constitutions makes those allowances more difficult to undo. The New York proposal operates via a mechanism demanding equality under the law regardless of pregnancy status, which it seems would make allowing abortion the legal standard on which to further build.