In a year when multiple states have opened official investigations into its practices, Planned Parenthood has been discreetly expanding the reach of its abortion services in Texas. The nation’s leading provider of abortions has set its latest covert action for Thursday, December 17—one week before Christmas Eve.
The issue stems from Planned Parenthood’s attempts to thwart a pro-life Texas law enacted in 2013, policies crafted on a bipartisan basis which require abortion centers raise safety standards to the level of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). Such ASCs can only operate in commercially zoned buildings due to heavy water and road use, among other issues.
Months ago, the San Antonio City Council granted Planned Parenthood an exception to city zoning policies—allowing the group to remodel an existing facility and open its abortion center 50 feet from families’ homes in the Dreamhill Estates neighborhood.
On Thursday, the San Antonio City Council convenes in an all-day meeting to consider this issue along with other city business. “Politicians often look for busy times to handle issues they’d rather go unnoticed,” says Nicole Hudgens, a policy analyst for Texas Values Action who attended a city hearing last week with over 100 concerned citizens.
“San Antonio city leaders are trying to seal a special deal with Planned Parenthood days before Christmas, just as Texas families are focused on celebrating the greatest pro-life miracle of all time,” states Hudgens.
Lorie Rojas, a resident of Dreamhill Estates in San Antonio, has seen how this new abortion center has already affected her family’s quiet neighborhood. Raising four children with her husband Roland, she took time away from holiday preparations to recount what has happened so far… and why citizens must speak up.
Lorie Rojas and her husband Roland raise their four children in San Antonio, Texas (Photo Courtesy of Lorie Rojas)
Bound4LIFE: How long has your family lived in San Antonio’s Dreamhill Estates neighborhood?
Lorie Rojas: For over seven years now, my husband and I have lived in Dreamhill Estates with our four children – ages five, nine and our 12 year-old twins.
My husband grew up in this neighborhood, residing here on-and-off for 25 years. His parents and only brother still live in the neighborhood.
Bound4LIFE: When did you first learn of this Planned Parenthood abortion center coming into your neighborhood?
Lorie Rojas: I first heard of it on October 12, 2014 in a neighborhood notice sent from our then-neighborhood association president, who has since moved from Dreamhill Estates after having lived here for 17 years.
Her e-mail notification came at the same time as the San Antonio Express-News article announced Planned Parenthood’s new location right near our residential area.
Bound4LIFE: Tell us about some of the other establishments in the neighborhood.
Lorie Rojas: Directly across the street and facing the abortion center, Clarity Child Guidance Center serves children with mental and psychological needs. Just down the street, over 70 children participate in programs at Study Hall Learning Center. School buses from Glen Oaks Elementary School now pass by that Planned Parenthood clinic every day.
Children can be seen playing games together outside and going for walks—though things may change moving forward. This is an active family neighborhood with a pediatric clinic and a McDonald’s, which for now still has its PlayPlace.
A school bus picks up children in San Antonio’s Dreamhill Estates neighborhood (Photo Courtesy of Lorie Rojas)
Bound4LIFE: When did this Planned Parenthood facility officially open its doors?
Lorie Rojas: According to information I’ve gathered, the clinic opened in late spring; it is believed that abortions were first performed there in early July.
Bound4LIFE: How has your neighborhood changed since then?
Lorie Rojas: Our neighborhood used to be a very cohesive group of folks: owners and renters, young and old. What is today Dreamhill Estates actually has over 150 years of community history.
We’ve shared so many monthly and annual functions together: ladies’ coffees, Halloween hay rides, Christmas parties, Easter egg hunts, Fourth of July parades and much more. We even have been working on a campaign for a neighborhood education center.
Now participating in some of these activities can be a drag. The heart of the neighborhood has been fractured. We know where each person stands on abortion, which can create tension. Instead of realizing how Planned Parenthood has divided us, friendships have been lost.
This is the kind of neighborhood where people have owned the same home for decades; we went two years with no home sales. In recent months, six homes were sold—and none of those owners have young children. You can be sure those of us with kids are looking at our options. More than one realtor has told me that home values will drop because of the abortion center coming in.
We have an increased police presence. Two weeks ago, my husband and I arrived home from a date night (at approx. 11:30pm) to see the police patrolling Planned Parenthood and several cars parked in the back. Folks have been seen sleeping in their cars outside the clinic.
At different times, girls have been seen running around the building trying to get away from someone. Right now, Planned Parenthood only performs abortions on certain days; we can only anticipate more of these weird occurrences.
Planned Parenthood has been a heavy draw on our neighborhood’s infrastructure. Their center has been newly remodeled, while our neighborhood’s streets and infrastructures are old.
We have had a water main break twice in the last year; the water company told my neighbor that Dreamhill Estates will continue to have breaks because of all the commercial vehicle traffic in our neighborhood. The second time it broke, it took three weeks and threats of media attention to fix it.
Dreamhill is not exactly the sanctuary it used to be. Honestly, we hope to move.
Bound4LIFE: Reports indicate the City of San Antonio made an exception to its zoning policies that allowed the abortion center to open. Why are some public officials eager to change city policies to accommodate Planned Parenthood?
Lorie Rojas: Planned Parenthood has been in operation and they’re going to put up a fight, because they put a lot of money into this facility.
It seems like city officials would rather avoid a fight with Planned Parenthood and their money-machine instead of listening to concerned citizens like me. I wish they would see the bigger picture of how this affects our city.
Bound4LIFE: How has this abortion center entering your neighborhood affected your family?
Lorie Rojas: As parents, my husband and I have had to educate and expose our kids to issues surrounding illicit sexual behavior at a much earlier age than we had desired. It’s difficult to explain Planned Parenthood signage to children, advertising STD screenings, birth control and the like.
Kids never imagine a place that kills kids. Now our children regularly ask for prayer to close the place. They have enlightened other kids to what goes on there. I have had many sleepless nights, as many other moms have.
I worry it is a place where sex abusers have their crimes against young girls erased, while physical and emotional scars remain. And what other supporting businesses will move in to be close to this abortion center?
I fear sex paraphernalia—or, worse yet, baby body parts—will show up in someone’s backyard. I am concerned something could happen to my kids playing outside: a bomb thrown at praying protestors as we saw in Austin back in March, or stray bullets like the mentally disturbed Colorado gunman.
Bound4LIFE: Many believe that abortion is the only solution to an unplanned pregnancy. What is your view?
Lorie Rojas: Abortion is not the solution to unplanned pregnancy nor is it after-the-fact “birth control.” Life is precious even when it is unexpected and unplanned.
I believe many of these girls in an unplanned situation need someone to put an arm around them and walk with them through this crisis in their lives. It is short lived.
I heard recently of a mother who sat in an abortion facility waiting for her turn; but somehow she had an overwhelming sense that someone wanted to adopt her son. She felt compelled to leave the facility.
Dear friends of ours ended up adopting her baby boy. We need to pray for heart change. There are so many couples just dying to adopt a new baby. We must pray for these pregnant women to never enter the door of one these facilities.
LifeNews Note: Josh Shepherd serves as communications manager at Bound4LIFE International, a grassroots movement to pray for the ending of abortion and for revival worldwide. This Bound4LIFE article has been reprinted with permission.