Capitol Police arrested six anti-abortion protesters staking out Speaker John Boehner’s office in the Longworth House Office Building on Wednesday.
Randall Terry, an outspoken anti-abortion advocate who is running for president, led a dozen people in the protest outside the Ohio Republican’s office at noon. Although Terry and several others left the protest before being arrested, six were taken into custody before 1 p.m. for unlawful assembly.
Protesting in Congressional office building hallways is illegal.
Knowing that the Senate and House will be meeting to work out the details of the federal budget next week, the protesters said they sought to ensure that the House stands firmly behind its recent proposal to defund Planned Parenthood in the continuing resolution. The Senate’s version of the budget will most likely include federal money for the organization, which provides birth control, abortions and other health services to low-income women.
Protesters hoped to encourage the Speaker to rally Republicans around the measure and refuse to vote for any budget proposal with funding for the organization.
“Will Speaker Boehner guarantee that the House members of the Conference Committee will not allow Planned Parenthood funding to be restored?” asked Terry in a statement. “If not, the recent House votes are just a scam.”
Terry, who has been arrested numerous times for protesting but decided to “sit this one out,” told Roll Call that if Boehner allows even one penny to go to Planned Parenthood, “he will have blood on his hands and is a collaborator with child molesters and pimps.”
Before the arrests, activists met with Boehner’s communications director, Cory Fritz, in the hallway. Terry’s spokeswoman, who goes by the name of Katherine Veritas, said Fritz promised to convey their concerns to the Speaker.
After the short discussion, protesters chanted “Defund Planned Parenthood, no compromise” and “Conference committee is the true test.” They waved signs that had similar statements.
The police, who awaited the group at Boehner’s office before it even arrived, gave the protesters three warnings to leave. After the second warning, Veritas began collecting the signs to end the protest.
The protest violations are a misdemeanor, and the six arrested should be released Wednesday with citations, said Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.