COLUMBIA, Mo. – A mid-Missouri anti-abortion advocate has been found not guilty of trespassing at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia.
Boone County Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler ruled Thursday that Kathy Forck did not trespass while participating in daily prayer vigils at the clinic. Forck, of New Bloomfield, and her husband, Mike, are campaign directors for the Columbia-based chapter of anti-abortion group 40 Days for Life.
She was cited for trespassing on July 24, 2012 and convicted in Columbia Municipal Court but appealed to the circuit court. She told supporters she was cited for offering water to a truck driver near the clinic, The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported.
“I am just thrilled,” Forck said Thursday. “I am just very happy that I was vindicated.”
Forck said the accusations of harassment are “lies.”
“I did not trespass,” Forck said. “I observed the rules up there – and I’m only there to offer help to the women.”
She said 40 Days for Life plans to continue to pray at the clinic until it closes because of Planned Parenthood’s connection with abortion services, even though the Columbia clinic no longer does abortions.
Ron Ellifrits, the interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, which operates the Columbia clinic, said in a statement the organization “is disappointed in (the) decision to acquit Kathy Forck of trespassing charges related to protests outside our Columbia Health Center. We will continue our efforts to ensure that our patients have the right to access our services without the constant harassment of Forck and her group.”