Almanac

News - December 4, 2013

Petitioners protest Planned Parenthood clinic's opening

by Renee Batti

It's become as predictable as dawn and dusk: Where a Planned Parenthood clinic opens, there will be protests. And as the health provider that focuses on reproductive care services opens this week on the former Chevys restaurant site on El Camino Real between Atherton and Redwood City, a group of residents has managed to collect about 1,600 signatures in 11 days on a petition to oppose the clinic's opening, according to an organizer.

Linda Potter is leading an effort to persuade the property owner, Brad Ehikian, to reconsider leasing the site at 2907 El Camino Real to Planned Parenthood-Mar Monte, headquartered in San Jose. The petition, addressed to Mr. Ehikian, argues that Planned Parenthood "is known to decrease property values," and that nearby businesses are likely to be negatively affected "by association." It also calls into question Planned Parenthood's safety record and quality of care.

A written statement sent to the Almanac by Ms. Potter also underscores the group's concern about abortion services that will be provided by the clinic, including to minors.

The nonprofit health provider received its permit to operate at the unincorporated site from San Mateo County; because the operation conforms with zoning for the site, the permit was issued administratively, which meant there were no public hearings beforehand.

Lupe Rodriguez of Planned Parenthood said last week the clinic was set to open on Dec. 3, and will operate 19 hours weekly at first before expanding to full- time service.

The clinic will offer reproductive and general health services, including birth control, pregnancy testing and options counseling, medication abortions, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing, and breast and cervical cancer screening. When it expands to full-time service, it will also offer prenatal care, pediatric care, and adult primary health care, Ms. Rodriguez said.

Opponents of the clinic have contacted public officials, including Atherton City Councilman Bill Widmer, who set up a meeting with Ms. Potter, Planned Parenthood representatives, and county Supervisor Warren Slocum, Mr. Widmer said last week.

Mr. Widmer said he shares some concerns over the location of the clinic, which he said is in the path of some children walking to and from school. He referred to past incidents involving Planned Parenthood opponents demonstrating outside clinic sites with signs depicting images of aborted fetuses. "This organization attracts a fair amount of protestors, and some of the signs can be quite graphic," he said.

Asked whether Supervisor Slocum plans to follow up on the protestors' requests to stop the clinic's opening, the supervisor's chief of staff, Carol Marks, noted that Planned Parenthood's operation at the site is an allowed use; she added, however, that "if there are issues resulting from the opening of the business that need some follow-up, he'll be receptive to that."

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