EL CENTRO — Planned Parenthood of Pacific Southwest opened their doors to their clinic Tuesday after receiving a conditional use permit by the El Centro Fire Chief.
Planned Parenthood released a statement stating their pleasure that the City of El Centro issued the final documentations necessary for the controversial organization to begin operating. However, El Centro Fire Chief Ken Herbert said he issued only a conditional permit, as the bed count at the clinic was higher than they were permitted to have.
According to Chief Herbert, Planned Parenthood would need to be factored for an I2.1 occupancy classification, which entails many more expensive fire safety additions for the beds they have available. Their classification is a “B Occupancy” which is for five beds or less.
So legally, Planned Parenthood can only operate with five of their procedural beds. The reason given by the fire chief is if a fire breaks out, the building’s fire capabilities are equipped to only handle five women who on their own “may not be capable of self preservation.”
According to the chief, Planned Parenthood did not want these conditions. They wanted no conditions placed on their occupancy permit.
Marty Ellett of The Hope Center, an outspoken opponent of abortion, argued that if this clinic was denied occupancy because of overpopulating their beds and violating fire codes, possibly Planned Parenthood’s other clinics in Southern California would be re-evaluated and found to be out of compliance if they follow the same pattern. He theorized that is why they were willing to sue the city and the councilmen.
Planned Parenthood has 19 other facilities in Southern California.
Nevertheless, Tuesday morning was quiet at the clinic, the only sign of life being the representatives from St. Mary’s Culture of Life, IV Coalition of Life and independent prayer walkers who held signs as they walked the perimeter praying for the lives of the babies and the pregnant females.
“There are so many other options other than abortion. We care about our community, there are so many lives affected by one abortion,” said Margie Madueno of Culture of Life. “Our valley is blessed with nice stores because of the traffic from Mexicali, stores that normally would not locate in such rural areas. Same thing with Planned Parenthood, they are here because of Mexicali, they will destroy families in Mexico.”
Angel Ashbrook, another prayer walker from IV Coalition for Life, stood outside the property lines praying with Marci Mallinger and Jackie Bachstein of 517 Ministry. Ashbrook mentioned the effort to obtain a state-of-the-art mobile health clinic to station close to the Planned Parenthood clinic as an alternate option besides abortion for pregnant women.
Planned Parenthood’s El Centro director, Juanita Salas, re-directed questions to their vice-president of communications, Cita Walsh, who never returned this paper’s phone calls concerning their conditional use permit.