A local abortion clinic is worried about an anti-abortion pregnancy center moving next door.
A Hand of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center, which says it encourages pregnant women to consider alternatives to abortion, wants to move its offices into a house it recently bought next to A Preferred Women’s Health Center, an abortion clinic on Jones Franklin Road.
Hand of Hope, which currently leases space less than a mile down the road, is asking the city to rezone the land next to the clinic to allow for commercial use. The clinic released a statement Thursday, saying it opposes the “underhanded” rezoning request out of fear of further scrutiny from anti-abortion activists.
“Abortion is not the right choice for everyone, but everyone has the right to make that choice. Hand of Hope has had a location directly across the street for years – this move is strictly an intimidation tactic,” clinic owner Lois Turner said in the statement.
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“The outcome of this re-zoning proposal will not affect any individual’s personal beliefs. However, if granted, it will cause disruption and difficulties for not only our business, but for our neighbors as well,” Turner said.
Abortion providers have faced increased criticism since video released last year suggested that Planned Parenthood profits from selling fetal parts for biomedical research. And some clinics have added security at their facilities after a former North Carolina resident killed three people during an attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood in November.
Anti-abortion activists often protest the clinic on Jones Franklin Road but none of them are Hand of Hope staffers, says Tonya Baker Nelson, the center’s founder and executive director.
Nelson told west Raleigh residents earlier this week that her organization won’t allow people to use their land next to the clinic for protesting. She has said her group in no way condones or practices harassment of pregnant women or abortion clinic staffers.
Nelson reiterated that Thursday, saying her center only serves to support women – including those who do choose to have abortions.
“Our greatest compliment is when the women we serve refer their friends to us. This includes women who actually do choose to end their pregnancy,” she wrote in a statement.
“Hand of Hope eagerly anticipated occupying their recently acquired property beside A Preferred Women's Health Center to educate men and women that parenting, parenting through adoption and abortion are their three choices,” she continued. “In almost eleven years of operation, Hand of Hope has yet to meet a single woman who did not regret her past abortion.”
The planning commission is expected to review the request on May 10 and make a recommendation to the City Council. The council could review the request on June 7 at the earliest, according to city staff.