SPOKANE — The Spokane City Council has adopted a new law that seeks in part to dampen the loud protests outside of the Planned Parenthood Spokane Health Center.
The Spokesman-Review reported the ordinance passed 6-1 on Monday night, with Councilman Michael Cathcart casting the only no vote.
Council members who supported the measure stressed it was not intended to restrict anti-abortion protesters’ rights to march, hold signs and pray.
“All we’re asking is that you keep the noise down to a reasonable level,” said Councilwoman Karen Stratton.
Cathcart said he opposed the ordinance because noise was subjective and “it’s too hard to interpret who’s causing the noise.”
The measure, introduced by Councilwoman Lori Kinnear, fortifies city law to match existing protections from interruption and interference for health care facilities in Washington state law.
The bill drew impassioned testimony from dozens of members of the public.
The ordinance was proposed in part because a group called the Church at Planned Parenthood has regular gatherings of anti-abortion activists who sing and pray outside of the clinic’s walls. The Church at Planned Parenthood events can draw hundreds of people and, occasionally, counter-protesters.
Planned Parenthood has said the demonstrations can be heard through its walls and interfere with the services it provides to patients, which include abortion but also STD and cancer screening, pregnancy testing and birth control.