Planned Parenthood on MLK opens today.

Today is the ‘grand opening’ of Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette’s new reproductive services building, at MLK and Beech Street. The opening was marked this morning and afternoon by several dozen anti-abortion protestors, a handful of Planned Parenthood supporters, and a sizable showing from the Portland Police Department.

Planned Parenthood is opening this 40,000 square foot Surgicenter (a terrible name, no?) to replace smaller facilities nearby. Like any large project, it was in the planning for years, which gave opponents time to mobilize and respond. Early pressure on the original developer, Bob Walsh, Sr., led him to pull out of the project. I quote the Mercury quoting the Oregonian quoting Mr. Walsh about the protestors’ activities:

“It’s disruptive and very threatening,” he said. “I just didn’t want to put my family through that.”

A search of the web easily turns up anti-abortion sites where people have spread the word about the Planned Parenthood’s move to MLK. For example, Pro-Life Action of Oregon has a blogpost from this past Friday noting that Planned Parenthood Washington has a pastor on their payroll, and decrying his involvement with PPCW and with abortion services in general.  Pro-Life Action includes words from Rev. Isham Harris, minister of NE Portland’s Upper Room Home Church:

“This clergyman is not in harmony with the Holy Spirit because Christ came so that we may have life,” says Rev. Harris. “Psalm 137 tells us that children are a heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is His reward. I question whether this reverend is being led by the Holy Spirit.”

Rev. Harris is distressed that Planned Parenthood chose Black History Month to open its abortion mill. “They have a total disregard for Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., for the plight of African-Americans. I feel the same about the Portland Development Commission. I totally abhor this.”

Two aspects of this quote run through much of the protest literature: the theme of the disregard that the Portland Development Commission has for the community, as evinced by its approval of the project, and the idea that Planned Parenthood (and its locations that tend to be in poor/black neighborhoods) is participating in a ‘black genocide’ via abortion.

The PDC is especially noted for its intentional disregard of the testimony of local community leaders concerning the undesirability of an abortion facility in the heart of N/NE Portland in this video, prepared by Precious Children of Portland, and narrated by activist Bill Diss:

STAND WITH US – PRECIOUS CHILDREN OF PORTLAND from mary dombrowski on Vimeo.

The Portland Observer’s article this week on Planned Parenthood says:

The Portland Muslim Community Center, right next door, isn’t keen on having a clinic that offers abortions in such close vicinity.
In December, Muhammed Najieb, the imam of the center, told the Portland Observer that he felt like the project was railroaded through by the Portland Development Commission which helped finance the construction.
Najieb said he [sic] abortion issue was a big reason the center was planning on moving and constructing a new mosque on North Vancouver in the Humboldt Neighborhood.


Imam Najieb gave this speech about abortion and the upcoming PPCW building in 2007, at the Irvington Covenant Center (also on MLK BLvd):

The Willamette Week noted this week that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, has been a determined supporter of the anti-abortion movement. The Black Genocide website collects statistics and news articles that chart the effect that abortion has on the African-American population.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood have turned out, as well, though not with the consistent visibility of anti-abortion activists, who have been seen weekly on the Boulevard. Here is video of the Portland Feminist Action League, rallying on MLK Boulevard’s sidewalks in support of Planned Parenthood last year:

A photo of the building itself gives you a sense of the size of it, and suggests that Planned Parenthood is, in fact, providing many other services than just offering abortions:

6 comments

  1. I think it is fantastic that PP has opened. PP is a huge resource for uninsured women to get the healthcare they need, and much needed in the community. I am sickened by those who threat and harass women who are legally allowed to obtain care, from overall health exams to birth control to family planning services. If the people who protest would refocus all that negative energy on helping the children of the community in a positive way, where children can focus on their education and personal growth, so they don’t GET into a situation where they have to make that awful choice, our communities would be so much better off. And you know what? If they don’t like that this is legal, harass the lawmakers, not the women who are already under enough stress as it is. I am glad this center is up and don’t think “surgicenter” is a bad name at all – friends of mine who go to PP in the midwest don’t have access to such high quality facilities for their healthcare, and it’s about time we invest more money (and yes, I do think this is an excellent PDC investment) in taking care of our women. There seems to be such a blatant disrespect for women, especially poor women, and it amazes me that people will verbally and physically attack and try to frighten women instead of being positive influences in their community.

  2. im not sure where you got the notion that there were more protesting against PP then those that were there in support. there were hundreds of people inside that building. not to mention numerous clergy people and YOUR state representatives and other people from our local governments. Rev Harris had some amazing words to say about the strength and encouragement that is showered upon the women who turn to PP for help when they need it.

    If you wanted to know what PP was about, you should have attended. your eyes would have been opened.

  3. I am quite happy such a large and lovely Planned Parenthood building has opened on MLK. When I was uninsured I utilized Planned Parenthood’s services for annual exams and birth control, the latter which kept me from utilizing it for abortions. My feeling has been throughout the whole building and protests that once they finish the building, there will be heavy use of Planned Parenthood’s services, which include a vast range for both men and women. I’m guessing that people from the neighborhood and people from across the city will travel there. For people who believe in a woman’s right to control her own body, Planned Parenthood has a good name and I am proud they chose a location near me.

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