An anti-abortion group must pay nearly $1m in fines to Planned Parenthood.
A judge in Spokane County, Idaho, ordered the group — by the name of The Church at Planned Parenthood — to pay $110,000 in civil damages and attorney fees amounting to $960,000 to the sexual health care nonprofit, the Spokesman-Review reported.
The ruling comes after several protests dating back to 2020 that “interfered with patient care” at the Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho location. The anti-abortion group had been previously banned in 2021 from protesting outside the location while patients were receiving care.
“This is a critical victory for Planned Parenthood at a time of historical attacks on abortion access,” said Paul Dillon, vice president of public affairs, said in a statement. “We are so thankful for the work of Legal Voice as well as the overwhelming support of the community.
He added: “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.”
The non-profit labelled the anti-abortion group as “extremists” that used loudspeakers outside the Spokane Planned Parenthood Health Care Center and disrupted the provision of services to patients at the clinic.
Planned Parenthood also claimed that patients were intimidated by the group, whose members “often carried concealed weapons.”
The court had fined The Church at Planned Parenthood $110,000 in December, but the parties were still settling the sum to be refunded for Planned Parenthood’s attorney fees before the verdict last week.
“These services attracted a variety of local and national hate group representatives, including the founder of Patriot Prayer, a hate group associated with the Proud Boys,” Planned Parenthood alleged.
According to its website, The Church at Planned Parenthood “is not a protest but a worship service at the gates of Hell.” The group was co-founded by Ken Peters, now a pastor with Patriot Church, during his time at Covenant Church, per the Spokesman-Review.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Mr Peters downplayed the protests as a “peaceful assembly.”
“Planned Parenthood Sues our little church for Peaceful Assembly and it costs Christians $850,000 for mostly Corrupt Lawyer’s Fees,” he wrote. “That’s a lot of money they stole from the Kingdom over one hour.”
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