Muslim Community Center

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: