SPOKANE, Wash. — Leaders at Planned Parenthood in Spokane filed an ordinance with city council to decrease noise from frequent protests outside their facility.
Washington State law states it is illegal to disturb the peace outside of a health care facility. The Planned Parenthood policy was written to clarify and specify that law.
“(These protests are) a public health and safety issue. This is just something that no patient should have to go through to get their care,” said Paul Dillon, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson.
The ordinance adds language to add an interruption of staff operations to the definition of a noise violation.
The ordinance would also allow a patient to file a lawsuit against protesters if they believe their healthcare was compromised because of the protests.
The Spokane Police Department would have to follow these guidelines to determine when to issue warnings or noise violations.
Officer John O’Brien with the department said police have been working to keep the protests under control.
“There have been reports of bullhorns, musical instruments, horns honking of cars driving by. We have addressed those with people as they have happened. After the warning, there’s been compliance,” O’Brien said.
He said officers are at the protests to have a neutral presence and ensure everyone’s safety.
“We are never going to make everybody happy all of the time, but we’ve been very successful in allowing both parties to peacefully assemble and exercise their first amendment right without assaults or any criminal behavior,” he said.
O’Brien said the department is working on a presentation to give city council and explain how their current protocol has been effective.
City Council is expected to discuss the Planned Parenthood ordinance on March 2.