by Steven Ertelt
April 12, 2007
Portland, OR (LifeNews.com) — The Portland Development Commission gave its final okay on Wednesday night for Planned Parenthood to move its regional headquarters and abortion facility to a city-owned lot in the heart of the African American community.
The commission’s 4-1 vote came after a standing room only meeting during which dozens of pro-life advocates and black community leaders expressed their opposition.
The abortion business is slated to open on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard where city officials have been hoping to revitalize a formerly run-down area.
Supporters either back or overlook the abortion part of Planned Parenthood and say the community needs the 140 jobs and the new building that it will bring.
But opponents said Planned Parenthood officials are preying on black women, who have abortions at much higher rates than their white counterparts.
"They are rich white people who say that they love the blacks, who give them the name of a street and then kill their children," Carolyn Wendell of Voice of Catholics Advocating Life, told the panel according to a Portland Oregonian report. "I don’t think that’s appropriate."
Commissioner Charles Wilhoite disagree and claimed "Planned Parenthood hasn’t been the demise of the African American community, and it won’t be," the newspaper indicated.
Meanwhile, Bill Diss, a Benson High teacher and Beaverton resident, turned in the petition signatures of more than 1,000 people who oppose Planned Parenthood’s relocation.
J. Salma Ahmad, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Portland, also opposed the relocation and told the commission that the location of the local Muslim center next door to the proposed abortion business site is a concern.
"And next door, they are probably taking life," she said, according to the Oregonian.
Commissioner Bertha Ferran was the lone dissenter and she said she hoped Planned Parenthood could compromise by moving its headquarters but not its abortion practice to the new site.
Alveda King, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is scheduled to come to Portland on April 20 and to speak to local residents before participating in the Oregon Right to Life conference the next weekend.
Last year, Oregonians voted against a measure to let parents know when their teenage daughters are considering an abortion by a 54-46 percentage margin after Planned Parenthood outspent pro-life advocates 3-1 and flooded the airwaves with a misleading television commercial.
But, thanks to efforts from Oregon Right to Life and crisis pregnancy centers, abortions in Oregon are down to their lowest levels since 1998, having decreased 20 percent between then and 2004, the latest year from which state data is available.
The Oregon Department of Human Services reported 14,344 abortions in 1998, but that number decreased to 11,443 abortions in 2004.