Randy Hall | Staff Writer/Editor | Thursday, June 5, 2008
After the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity of Sarasota, Inc., voted to disengage itself from Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida and not go through with a planned land deal, Jim Sedlak, vice president for American Life League (ALL), said in a news release that his organization was "extremely pleased" with the board's decision.
"In early May, Sarasota Habitat had agreed to buy a piece of land from Planned Parenthood for $10 and agreed to build multi-family housing" on the property in the Rosemary District north of downtown Sarasota, Sedlak said.
"This agreement allowed Planned Parenthood to fulfill a zoning requirement it needed to get an occupancy permit for a new abortion facility it is building" on the site, he added.
Then on May 5, the Sarasota City Commission approved the collaboration on a 3-2 vote.
Organizations that work with Planned Parenthood, however, will likely be viewed negatively by many people in the community, said Sedlak. "Planned Parenthood is a controversial organization," he said, "and that controversy will transfer to any group associated with it."
Sedlak added in his statement that ALL "worked with local pro-lifers and publicized this fact across the country, resulting in a large number of phone calls to local Habitat offices, as well as Habitat for Humanity International offices."
As a result, Duane Bates, director of public and media relations for the national Habitat organization, told Cybercast News Service that "Habitat for Humanity of Sarasota has declined a donation of land from Planned Parenthood, stating that accepting the land 'would not be in the best interests of our ongoing work in the community, the families we seek to serve or the broader Habitat for Humanity community.'"
Bates added in his e-mail that "Habitat for Humanity of Sarasota is an independent, autonomous affiliate that is governed by a local board of directors that establishes policies at the local level."
"Since its founding in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity International has built and rehabilitated more than 250,000 houses with families in need," according to the organization's Web site.
Sedlak said he considered it shameful for an organization like Habitat to partner with a group that so obviously contradicted its goals of providing a "simple, decent, affordable place to live in dignity and safety" for everyone.
"I don't see how building a residence next to an organization that kills babies, pushes pornography, and covers up for rapists gives a family dignity or safety," he said.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the nation's biggest abortion provider has sought to avoid opposition when buying property or building new facilities in such places as Denver, Colo., Portland, Ore., and Aurora, Ill.
While increased awareness of the organization's tactic has increased the number of obstacles in Planned Parenthood's way, most of the new structures are nevertheless completed after the group overcomes a number of legal hurdles.
Telephone requests seeking comment for this article from Planned Parenthood officials were not returned by press time, though the organization is expected to either develop the parcel itself or find another buyer for the land.
However, Dawn Vargo, bioethics analyst on government and public policy for Focus on the Family Action, told Cybercast News Service that her organization is "happy to see that Habitat for Humanity broke its ties with Planned Parenthood."
"It would appear as though they have recognized that Planned Parenthood is on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to valuing human life and advocating for the needy and defenseless," Vargo stated in an email.
"Hopefully, they will remember this in the future before aligning themselves with organizations that promote the destruction of innocent human life," she said.
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