Tuesday, January 22, 2008

UPDATED: While we were marching ...

... Planned Parenthood was getting three "clergy" to bless the abortion wing of its new Schenectady, N.Y., clinic.

From the Albany Times-Union "Local Politics" blog:

To commemorate Tuesday’s 35th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, Mohawk Hudson Planned Parenthood in Schenectady has asked local clergy to bless its new facility.

Officials at Planned Parenthood invited the media to tour the surgical wing and the new building at 1040 State St., calling the event in a press release: “On Sacred Ground--Blessing of the Building by Schenectady Clergy.”

After the ceremony, the three clergy members will speak “in support of the Planned Parenthood mission, birth control and the continued need to keep abortion safe, legal and accessible for all women,” according to Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Lindal Scharf.
UPDATE: And here's how it went, from the Albany Times-Union:
[T]he blessing occurred at the newly constructed 18,000-square-foot building at 1040 State St. that opened in September to replace a facility on Union Street.

"Clergy have long supported Planned Parenthood's mission and believe women are moral decision-makers, and they trust their right to make a personal decision based on their moral beliefs and whether ... we concur ... we still need to respect that decision," Scharf said.

"The clergy were instrumental in getting abortion services legalized in the United States and right here in Schenectady," she added. "I know a member of the clergy who was part of an underground who directed young women to safe abortions before Roe v. Wade." ...

At Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Rev. Larry Phillips of Schenectady's Emmanuel-Friedens Church declared the ground "sacred and holy ... where women's voices and stories are welcomed, valued and affirmed; sacred ground where women are treated with dignity, supported in their role as moral decision-makers ... sacred ground where the violent voices of hatred and oppression are quelled."

The minister has been affiliated with Planned Parenthood going back more than 30 years, Scharf said. About three dozen people gathered at the facility, known as the Evelyn & David Sencer Center, to offer prayers during the half-hour ceremony.

The Rev. Abby Norton-Levering led the group in prayers for the center's doctors and staff. "We pray that you will make this a place of safety and give a sense of sanctuary," she said.

Rabbi Matt Cutler of Temple Gates of Heaven blew the shofar as "a renewal of commitment to keep reproductive rights in the hands of women."

The Rev. Bill Levering, senior pastor of First Reformed Church of Schenectady, said the right to privacy is endowed by God.
"There are some decisions that are left to the individual. Even God respects the right of privacy. We make women into children when we say they cannot control their own bodies," Levering said.

Phillips led everyone outside where they laid their hands on the brick and limestone as the minister declared, "This is sacred ground."