Henrietta, New York — the town that refused to allow Planned Parenthood to open a facility within its limits — will be forced to welcome the abortion chain following a court ruling which orders the Town Board to approve Planned Parenthood’s permit.
In June, the Henrietta Town Board denied Planned Parenthood’s application to open an abortion facility after residents responded with furor. “This is an issue that goes beyond Henrietta,” resident Dorothy Hayes said. “Planned Parenthood is the hub for central, western New York – they affect all the neighborhoods they get into.”
Another resident, Barbara Sieber, added, “It’s just the amount of death, but it also concerns me that they are looking at university campuses. They are taking advantage of people who do not understand the consequences of sex.”
At the board meeting, the application was then denied in a 3-2 vote. Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York President and CEO Michelle Casey argued that residents’ complaints were baseless, and by August, had filed a lawsuit. “We’ve asked the court to hear our case as soon as possible because we can’t see all the patients we would like to see in our smaller Brighton location than we would see in a bigger Henrietta location,” she said.
Now, a judge has ruled that the board decision was “unlawful,” and that the board had to approve the special-use permit.
“We are pleased that the Henrietta Town Board has abided by the law and approved our special use permit,” Casey said in a statement. “Although we are dismayed that this process has delayed our ability to provide essential services, we look forward to opening our new clinic in Henrietta and embracing the opportunity to provide a full range of expert sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion.”
Still, residents continue to be angry about the existence of an abortion business in their town. “I think the fact that Henrietta decided they didn’t want this in a plaza where you have family businesses and industries was very reasonable,” Hayes said in response to the ruling. Board members Lisa Bolzner, Rick Page, and Joseph Bellanca had also argued that the existence of a surgical facility did not fit the character of the shopping plaza in which Planned Parenthood wanted to open. “A surgical medical facility is completely inconsistent with the purpose and character of a retail shopping plaza — a patron does not shop at a surgical medical facility or stop in for a visit in between shopping stops at retail stores (like one might stop at a restaurant for food or at an entertainment venue for a break),” they wrote.
Planned Parenthood plans to open the facility in April.