Pro-life, pro-choice activists clash at Spokane City Council meeting

SPOKANE, Wash. — Speaking on religion, freedom of speech and even making accusations of witchcraft, pro-life and pro-choice activists had a lot to say at Monday’s city council meeting.

An upcoming ordinance would hush protesters outside medical facilities like Planned Parenthood. Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said the proposed law is intended to keep demonstrators from disturbing patients and providers.

Nearly every month, members of The Church At Planned Parenthood gather to worship outside the clinic at 123 East Indiana Avenue. Ken Peters, the pastor who organizes the demonstrations was not at Monday’s city council meeting but members of his congregation and other supporters, were.

Kim Hall, director of the Selkirk Pro-life Alliance believes the upcoming ordinance would limit free speech for pro-life activists. She was quick to scold pro-choice activists who turned their backs while she spoke during the open forum.

“They’re the ones that have called me a religious extremist, those people right there,” Hall said, pointing her finger toward the group. “They’re witches, I know for a fact. They’re satanists, I know for a fact.”

Spokane activist Tom Robinson was quick to fire back.

“Think about all these discussions of free speech that have gone on tonight and then a person gets up to remonstrate [our] free speech rights which include being able to stand up, being able to turn around.”

Under the ordinance, demonstrators could still gather outside clinics but they would need to keep the noise down. Kinnear said she’s not targeting any specific group, or side. Counter-protesters could also be cited.

“Certainly you could be out in front of the facility as long as you’re not blocking the driveway or blocking traffic with signs, you can be quietly protesting,” Kinnear said. “That’s not the issue, it’s when individuals are intent on disrupting the activity inside a facility.”

Several officers from the Spokane Police Tactical Team attended last week’s meeting — Sgt. Terry Preuninger said police received credible threats about the ordinance but wouldn’t say who they came from. Council members are expected to vote on the ordinance March 2.