Anti-abortion protestors picket Planned Parenthood
Anti-abortion protestors from out of state and local churches took up stations on sidewalks around the Spokane Planned Parenthood Saturday, demanding an end to what they called the abortion holocaust.
The demonstration drew between 60 or 70 protestors, who held up graphic images of aborted fetuses from various stages of gestation. A march started at Planned Parenthood in Northern Spokane and ended downtown.
The protest is affiliated with national anti-abortion group Operation Save America.
During the event, organizers and participants handed out anti-abortion handouts and anti-LGBTQ literature.
State Representative for the 4th District Matt Shea attended the rally, posting a video to Facebook in which he praised pregnancy centers, adoption and the pastors behind the event.
“The great part about the word abortion is you change a couple of letters and it actually turns into adoption,” Shea said in the video. “I think that’s the answer. That’s what Christ would want.”
Shea declined to answer a Spokesman-Review reporter’s questions.
Organizers and participants said their protest differed from other pro-life demonstrations in that they identify as as “abolitionists” – a term they say describes their mission to make abortion illegal – and don’t believe a legislative compromise is acceptable.
One of the event’s organizers and a vocal proponent of the movement, Jake Eakin, was one of two juveniles convicted in the 2003 killing of 13-year-old Craig Sorger, a developmentally disabled Ephrata boy. According to a Spokesman-Review article from 2006, after changing his account of the killing several times, Eakin entered into a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to 14 years.
He and the other boy sentenced in the killing, Evan Savoie – both 12 years old at the time of Sorger’s death – are the youngest defendants tried for murder in Washington state since the 1930s.
Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said Eakin was released in October of 2016.
Eakin could not immediately be reached for comment.
One of the organizers for the protest and a pastor for the Living Hope Ministry out of western Washington, David Graves, said he was aware of Eakin’s conviction and compared him to the apostle Paul in the Bible, who became a leader in the Church after he was confronted by God for his past behavior.
Paul Dillon, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, called the protestors a radical fringe group and discouraged Planned Parenthood supporters from counter protesting, citing safety concerns. He encouraged supporters to instead get involved through volunteering.
He said various Planned Parenthood locations often get noisy protestors, but the Operation Save America group uses more hateful, extreme rhetoric and also opposed LGBTQ rights. He said fortunately, the protest had been scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, which is outside the health center’s business hours. Patient safety and well being, he said, is one of the organization’s top priorities.
Graves said he expected Planned Parenthood to frame their group as radical, and the group’s position stemmed from a fundamentally different viewpoint.
“What do you expect they’re going to say?” Graves said. “We think abortion is evil, they think abortion is a good thing.”