Planned Parenthood’s abortion expansion
(Editor's Note: This photograph by Clarion Herald photographer Frank J. Methe was taken on Monday, March 25. On Tuesday, March 26, demolition was begun and nearly completed on the building on the left.)
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has purchased property on South Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans where it plans to build a $4.2 million regional facility that will perform abortions, leaders of an interfaith alliance called NOLA Needs Peace said.
When it opens at 4636 South Claiborne Ave., perhaps as early as 2014, it could become the largest abortion facility in Louisiana.
“We see this as a regional facility that will come in and draw women from across the southeast (U.S.) for abortions,” said Ben Clapper, executive director of the Louisiana Right to Life Federation. “This will increase the number of abortions in New Orleans.”
The 7,000-square-foot facility is being designed by New Orleans-based John C. Williams Architects, Clapper said. According to a Planned Parenthood fund-raising brochure, the facility will replace a Planned Parenthood Clinic at 4018 Magazine St.
Clapper said the Magazine Street clinic does not perform abortions. But Julie Mickleberry, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, told a state legislative committee last year that when the new facility opens, it does plan to offer abortion services.
Among the goals for the new “health center” listed in Planned Parenthood’s fund-raising brochure is to “provide access to medically safe abortion procedures.”
“We can have a healthier New Orleans – and you can make it happen,” the brochure said. “Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is building a state-of-the-art health center that doubles its capacity to serve the health care needs of women, men and youth in New Orleans.”
Clapper said, however, that the nation’s largest abortion provider will continue to drive women in crisis pregnancies toward abortion. Planned Parenthood performs about one-third of all abortions in the U.S. – about 330,000 – and its abortion numbers have increased in recent years even as national abortion rates have either decreased or leveled off.
“Planned Parenthood performs abortions on nine out of 10 pregnant women who come through its doors,” Clapper said.
Also, Clapper said, Planned Parenthood performed 145 abortions for every one adoption referral in 2011. Abortions in 2011 represented 92 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services, with prenatal care accounting for 7 percent and adoption referrals 0.6 percent.
Clapper said every non-abortion service that Planned Parenthood could offer at the new facility – such as pregnancy testing, birth control, STD testing and adoption referrals – already is available in New Orleans.
Planned Parenthood received $542 million in taxpayer funding in 2011-12, representing 45 percent of its total revenue. Revenue from abortion services – $157 million – represents 50.4 percent of Planned Parenthood’s nongovernmental health services income.
Clapper said Planned Parenthood claims abortion represents only 3 percent of its services, but that figure is arrived at by weighing all products and services equally, regardless of their cost.
Effects on minorities
The clinic also will have a detrimental effect on the minority population, Clapper said. Planned Parenthood has located 79 percent of its facilities within walking distance of African-American or Latino neighborhoods. African Americans constitute 12.6 of the U.S. population but account for 30 percent of all abortions.
Deacon Allen Stevens, who serves in ministry at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, said the arguments used to allow the killing of the unborn are the same as those used to support the institution of slavery.
“Unfortunately, the same justification they use for killing babies was used to enslave African Americans,” Deacon Stevens said. “They considered African Americans less than human or not human. So, they will call these babies everything but a child of God. We need to recognize that reality.
“The genocide, especially within the African-American community, is an abomination, and it threatens the life of this body of Christ that we’re trying to build up. It’s important, not only to Americans, but specifically to the African-American community because of the number of babies being aborted.”
Clapper said he does not know what effect Planned Parenthood’s new regional abortion facility would have on the abortion clinic at 3044 Ridgelake Ave. in Metairie.
‘Walmart of abortion’
“They’re the Walmart of abortion,” Clapper said. “In other places, they have driven out smaller facilities. There’s no reason to believe that will happen here, but we just don’t know.”
Planned Parenthood purchased three pieces of property fronting Claiborne Avenue – one of them an empty lot – for the new facility. According to records filed with the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office, Planned Parenthood bought two of the parcels in June 2010 from John D. Shea for $400,000.
Planned Parenthood acquired the other parcel, a former pawn shop, in May 2012 for $500,000. The property was sold by Clifton Hartley and Vernon E. Pettigrew Jr. to SC1 Development Company LLC, which transferred the property five days later to Planned Parenthood.
Currently, the largest abortion facility in the state is in Shreveport, where 3,087 abortions were performed in 2010.
“It draws from the Texarkana and Monroe area,” Clapper said.
NOLA Needs Peace has launched a website – www.nolaneedspeace.com – that explains the facts about Planned Parenthood and its plans for the new facility. Clapper said a broad coalition of Christian denominations are joining the awareness, education and prayer campaign.
“As a Christian, I am passionate about this issue,” said Maria Hamilton, who works with her husband, Rev. Abraham Hamilton III of Gideon Fellowship Church in New Orleans, as a NOLA Needs Peace liaison to nondenominational churches. “This is immoral and terrible. I just want to do my best to change it, especially here in New Orleans. This is why I’m here. This is why we live here. I just want to make sure I do what I can to minimize abortion, if not end abortion. We obviously don’t want Planned Parenthood to be here.”
Education, truth needed
Lauren Lagarde, parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Church in uptown New Orleans, said she is involved with the NOLA Needs Peace initiative because many people, especially women, don’t know the truth about Planned Parenthood as an abortion juggernaut.
“I feel like a lot of what’s wrong with our society is lack of education and knowledge of the truth,” Lagarde said. “I feel like if people are educated, they can make a better choice about what they believe, especially Catholics. Catholics need to know what the truth is.”
The Archdiocese of New Orleans will host a “NOLA Needs Peace Awareness Week” April 27-May 3 to offer parishioners in every parish information about Planned Parenthood and its plans.
“We’re encouraging each parish and school to distribute the materials we will be providing them,” Clapper said. “We’ll also be doing that in the Baptist and evangelical churches across the city.”
For more information, go to nolaneedspeace.com. Also, read Archbishop Aymond’s column on page 2 of this issue.