Churchgoers in Robes Praying Outside Planned Parenthood Spark Criticism

A viral video online has captured the scenes outside of a New York Planned Parenthood location, when a church congregation lined up appearing to pray.

The video shared by TikTok user @boweryboi was posted yesterday and has gained over 200,000 views, many of which were left with confusion.

"Taking a stroll in the East Village today," he wrote on-screen. "Boom," he said as he zoomed in on what appeared to be an entire church congregation. The group all wore robes, as one held a large cross above his head and displayed a painting of the Virgin Mary. It's unclear which church the group belonged to.

The individuals were lined up, and some had their heads bowed, appearing to pray in the direction of the Planned Parenthood building. One man could be seen speaking into a walkie-talkie.

Although the video didn't specify what the church members were doing, protests against abortions are commonplace outside Planned Parenthood.


Thoughts on what’s happening here and is this an everyday occurrence? #plannedparenthood #eastvillage

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"I wish they'd use this energy to advocate for access to affordable daycare [and] other help but not just access to healthcare for women," commented one user.

For most viewers, the issue lied deeper than the abortion debate here, but also on the fact that many who visit Planned Parenthood are doing so for a multitude of other reasons. Planned Parenthood also offers affordable birth control and STI testing, while only some locations perform abortions.

"The gag is most of us go to Planned Parenthood for nothing that has to do with what they are protesting," wrote one user.

"People really don't understand the purpose of Planned Parenthood. Most of the services they do are not abortion related," noted another.

Some viewers who visit the location documented claimed that protests from church members are common, but not as many captured in the video: "I walk by there every day and usually only 2-3 are there," wrote one.

"There used to be one woman standing there everyday with a sign," commented another.

One user claimed that it's sometimes "way worse than this" while another added that it "happens at least once a week."

A group known as The Church at Planned Parenthood was issued a permanent injunction in September, banning the organization from demonstrating outside the Spokane clinic when it's open to patients.

The Church at Parent Parenthood regularly gathered outside the building and performed worship services at the front, praying for "repentance for this nation, repentance for the apathetic church and repentance for our blood guiltiness in this abortion holocaust," according to its website.

The services could reportedly be heard by patients inside the Planned Parenthood, leading to claims that the demonstrations violated state laws made to protect health care facilities from interference.

"In Washington state we have very strong laws about the right to care and right to accessing reproductive health services, and I think we need to continue to build on that to safeguard our patients and their respect for privacy and care," Paul Dillon, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, told The Spokesman-Review.

Newsweek has contacted Planned Parenthood for comment.