RALEIGH — Facing criticism for their noise and tactics, a group of abortion protesters is firing back, saying its approach is the only effective way to persuade women to leave a West Raleigh abortion clinic.
The Raleigh City Council recently received noise complaints from the owner of a neighboring office building who says he finds the activities outside his front door “embarrassing.” But the protesters say their group is within its rights to preach through small megaphones and approach the clinic’s patients; the building owner notes that police haven’t taken any action to stop them.
“If you see a blind man walking off a cliff, are you going to tell them or just stand there and pray?” said Rodney Davis, pointing to a group of Catholic protesters who pray quietly across from the clinic.
Davis and about five to 10 others visit the clinic twice a week, attempting to speak with each person entering the building – whether they’re a supplier, a staff member or a patient.
Last week, protester Zack Braddy approached a woman entering the building, saying “Let us help you not have the blood of a child on your conscience.” The woman ignored him as she walked through the door.
Braddy also preaches and reads from the Bible through a small plastic megaphone; he’s loud, but he doesn’t shout. He explained that the clinic’s waiting room faces the street, and he wants the women waiting for the doctor to hear what he has to say.
“We’re simply lifting our voices so we can be heard,” he said.
Braddy’s group is also heard by workers next door at the headquarters of Sampson-Bladen Oil Company – a neighbor that’s never complained about the ongoing Catholic groups who pray quietly. While they share the same goal, the Catholic group has also called the more vocal approach “obnoxious.”
That’s put them on the same side as the abortion clinic’s staff, who have gathered volunteers to escort patients into the building.
Braddy and others “are rude, disrespectful, and full of hatred and judgment,” said volunteer escort Sara Castellano. “They intentionally break the law, and we constantly have to call law enforcement because they threaten, trespass and break sound ordinances.”
The situation at A Woman’s Choice isn’t likely to change. The city attorney has said the protest appears to be within the law, and Braddy says his group plans to continue.
Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter