A property directly across from Kitsap County’s sole Planned Parenthood clinic has become a hot spot for members of the anti-abortion rights movement whose stated goal continues to be saving the lives of the unborn and their mothers.
Bremerton’s Planned Parenthood has stood as the only branch in the county for over a decade since the closing of the Silverdale branch in 2011. Since then, NE Riddell Road has played host to a number of protests organized by those who are either for or against abortion rights.
Laurie Coykendall, executive director for Western Washington Coalition for Life and a local campaign leader for 40 Days for Life, said that her organizations started to look across the street for ways to continue their collective campaigns.
“We had looked at this house across from Planned Parenthood for years and thought that, really, wouldn’t it be nice if we could ever get that house,” she said.
Coykendall called it an answered prayer when “for sale” signs popped up in the house’s yard in the spring of 2020, and with the help of several donations, she was able to raise over $200,000 to pay for the house, along with closing costs and other added expenses.
Over two years have passed since acquiring the House for Life, where the stated mission continues to be spreading the word about options other than abortion. Inside the property are resources about dozens of pro-life organizations in and around Kitsap County, as well as nationwide.
“We’re not anti-abortion just because it kills the baby,” Coykendall said, “but we are all for getting life to be the choice rather than the only option being abortion across the street.”
Resources are also provided for adoption and foster-care agencies. While both have received criticisms for lacking performance, Coykendall argued that adoption still provides the possibility of a good life for the child instead of no life at all.
“It’s not giving up on this child, but it’s making the decision that I can’t raise this child,” she said. “I want this child to have two loving parents, a mom and a dad, that will raise this child with love.”
The House for Life, in association with 40 Days for Life, continues to hold protests for about an hour every day that Planned Parenthood is open. Coykendall said that law enforcement and Planned Parenthood attempt to limit them more than they are legally allowed to.
“What we do is we make sure that we don’t trespass,” she said. “We make sure that if the police come and say don’t do something, we stop whatever it is that they tell us not to do. Then, we call our lawyer and if our rights are being trampled on, they’ll follow up.”
Coykendall also said that 40 Days for Life in Bremerton became one of 40 locations in the country to transition to a 365-day format beginning in 2021, meaning that the campaign would go on year-round. That was to deter a protest from Planned Parenthood saying that the signs on the house and the yard across from their property “was not during the 40 Days for Life campaign.”
Regardless of legal struggles and the occasional obscenities, Coykendall said that the mission continues to be a peaceful protest in favor of the lives of all involved, and when a car passes after just seeing the signs or the protesters that a life may have just been saved.
“We’re here to love everybody that comes there. We’re here to love the workers, the girls that go in for birth control, the women that are going for abortions, the dads, the grandmas, the friends, and to give them the proof about how abortion is not the only solution.”