Catholic Bishop Wins Hearing on Suit To Block Abortion Clinics
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A Roman Catholic bishop has gone to court in an effort to block the expansion of services at two family planning clinics to include performing abortions.
Bishop Howard Hubbard won an order Friday temporarily blocking operating certificates for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood clinics in Albany and Hudson, about 30 miles to the south.
A hearing was scheduled for Jan. 25 on the lawsuit.
The state Health Department had given permission earlier for the facilities to add abortion services, citing an unmet need in the area for out-of-hospital abortion services.
″The Catholic Church in the Diocese of Albany remains unswerving in our commitment to protect the life of the defenseless unborn,″ Hubbard said.
″We will continue our strong opposition to the abortion-on-demand philosophy which the proposed Planned Parenthood abortion clinics represent and we will expand our already substantial services, which provide alternatives to abortion.″
It was the first time the Albany diocese has gotten involved in a court battle to stop abortion clinics from opening, said the Rev. Michael Farano, chancellor of the diocese.
Charles Tobin, a long-time lobbyist for the New York State Catholic Conference, said he did not know if any other diocese in the state or nation had become directly involved in such an action. Calls to the U.S. Catholic Conference in Washington for comment were unanswered late Friday.
The diocese’s attorney, Michael Costello, said, ″There is no public need for the clinics″ and told Justice John Pennock that irreparable harm would be done if the clinics were allowed to start performing abortions.
Ruth Klepper, executive director of the family planning group, said she was not sure what date the clinics would be ready to open. ″I’m not prepared to give any kind of a date,″ she said.
Operating certificates were scheduled to be issued after minor deficiences are corrected at the Albany clinic and after health inspectors survey the Hudson clinic, Health Department spokesman Peter Slocum said.
Nathan Riley, a spokesman for state Attorney General Robert Abrams, said it was unlikely that the department would have issued the certificates by the date of the hearing anyway.