City Won’t Let Pregnancy Center Open Next to Abortion Clinic to Save Babies From Abortions

State   Micaiah Bilger   Feb 14, 2017   |   4:35PM    Raleigh, North Carolina

A North Carolina abortion clinic has thwarted a pro-life pregnancy center’s plan to move in next door again.

The News & Observer reports the Raleigh Board of Adjustments ruled against the pregnancy center’ plan to move on Monday, basing its decision on city zoning regulations. The decision was prompted by an appeal from the abortion clinic, A Preferred Women’s Health Center.

The dispute has been going on for months. Since last spring, a Hand of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center has been seeking the city’s permission to move into the building it purchased next to the abortion clinic. Hand of Hope leases the building where it currently operates.

In November, the city’s zoning staff announced it would allow the pregnancy center to move in; but in January, the abortion clinic’s owners at The Schnider Group LLC appealed the decision, citing a matter of zoning interpretation, according to earlier reports.

The legal issue involves city zoning ordinances and whether the pregnancy center is a civic group or a medical facility, according to the report. However, abortion politics appear to be at the root of the on-going dispute.

Employees of the Raleigh abortion clinic have been fighting the pregnancy center’s request from the start. It claims that the pro-life pregnancy center and its supporters will harass women seeking abortions.

The latest decision comes from the city Board of Adjustment, which voted 3-2 on Monday to deny the pregnancy center’s request to move onto the land it purchased, reversing the city staff’s decision, the report states.

The board ruled that the pregnancy center is a medical facility because it uses an ultrasound machine and has a medical director and volunteer nurses who interpret the ultrasounds, according to the report.

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“It’s pretty clear to me that this center, they have a medical director,” said board chairman Carr McLamb Jr. “I don’t know how to get around that as a medical use.”

Tonya Baker Nelson, Hand of Hope executive director, said they may appeal the decision.

She previously said the staff and volunteers at Hand of Hope do not make medical diagnoses, nor do they encourage protests or block access to the abortion facility. She also told the news outlet that Wake County health officials are the ones who come on-site to do STD testing, not her staff or volunteers.

“We’re not making a medical diagnosis. We don’t say ‘You’re pregnant.’ We say you’ve had a positive pregnancy test,” Nelson said. “We’re very clear on what our role is. We’re not trying to be something we’re not.”

Jay Hobbs of Pregnancy Help News reported more about the situation for LifeNews in November:

The pregnancy center first encountered friction in late April from a handful of pro-abortion residents at a citizen’s advisory council meeting, followed by accusations from the abortion facility of what it called the pro-life group’s “underhanded” motives.

When the Raleigh City Council voted, 7-0, to deny Hand of Hope the right to use the property it purchased for its life-saving mission, citing previously unannounced zoning plans, Mauck & Baker LLC filed a lawsuit on the center’s behalf.

Challenging the city’s overreach on constitutional grounds, and arguing that the city’s actions violate the 2000 Religious Land & Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits government entities from unduly discriminating against religious nonprofits like Hand of Hope, Mauck & Baker filed its lawsuit Aug. 17 in federal court.

According to its website, Hands of Hope operates two pregnancy centers in North Carolina where it offers free and confidential pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STD testing, options counseling and more. The pro-life center says it “exists solely to truly offer women and men who are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy a real choice in their decision making process.”

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