Members of the Ventura Baptist Temple, located across the street from the new Planned Parenthood building in Ventura, have begun a letter-writing campaign asking that the clinic be moved.
On Dec. 13, Planned Parenthood moved to the building on Ralston Street from its Oxnard location, which was the site of recurring anti-abortion protests. The clinic, which provides abortions and other services, will be open in about two weeks, a spokeswoman said.
“We’re shocked that they chose a location next to a church, a school and a nursing home,” Baptist Temple Pastor George Golden said.
He added that not only are the church members upset that abortions will be performed across the street from their place of worship, but that the 156 kindergarten through eighth-grade children attending the church’s school may be exposed to graphic pictures used in protests. The church’s about 1,000 active members are being asked to write letters to city officials protesting the clinic’s location.
“Militant protesters would show up at the old Planned Parenthood location in Oxnard with signs . . . draped hearses . . . baby doll parts splashed with red paint,” Golden said. “I don’t think that even parents who believe that abortion is right would want their children to see these things.”
Margaret Connell, Planned Parenthood public affairs director, said the church’s problem is with the protesters and not the clinic.
“We are not going to create any disturbance,” Connell said. “So if they are worried about protests, then they should talk with the protesters.”
Golden said he received a letter from a protester apologizing for the shock tactics but stating that it was the only way that they could get the public’s attention.
Connell said Planned Parenthood had been looking for a Ventura site for more than a year. As well as finding an adequate building for medical facilities, part of the consideration was that the site have a private parking lot and entrance so patients would not have to cross a picket line.
City officials said it is unlikely that the clinic can be forced to move because it is allowed by current zoning laws.