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Judge: City Blocked Abortion Clinic

February 13, 1998

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ The largest metropolitan area in the country without abortion services was cleared to get a clinic when a federal judge ruled that the city of Bettendorf unconstitutionally used zoning ordinances as a roadblock.

Abortion opponents promised to continue to try to block a clinic with prayers and pickets after Thursday’s ruling. Abortion providers expect to begin building in the spring.

Bettendorf is part of the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois. With a population of 320,000, the area is the largest in the country that does not have abortion services. The nearest clinic is 50 miles away, in Iowa City.

U.S. District Judge Charles Wolle, in striking down the city’s second attempt to block the clinic, said the city violated the constitutional rights of Planned Parenthood and women who would be served by the clinic.

The city cannot use zoning laws to interfere with the clinic, Wolle said. He rezoned the site chosen by Planned Parenthood, which will effectively allow the group to construct the clinic.

The city had argued that the clinic would lower property values in the area and that the constitutional right to an abortion was preserved by the clinic 50 miles away.

Planned Parenthood said surveys showed values had not eroded near other clinics across the country. They also said the city’s position was unsupported in law and driven by an anti-abortion bias.

``We’re going to put our best effort forward to be a good member of this community, to be a good partner with the city,″ said Jill June, director of Planned Parenthood.

City officials had no immediate comment.

Activists promised to continue working against the proposed clinic.

``My faith says we’re not going to see a clinic there,″ said Launa Stoltenberg, spokeswoman for the Life and Family Coalition.

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