Anti-abortion activists protest new site for Sacramento clinic

08/06/2013 12:00 AM

08/06/2013 10:02 AM

About two dozen people, many carrying signs depicting aborted fetuses, lined the sidewalks outside an Arden-area building Monday to protest what they said is an abortion clinic's move into the neighborhood.

Protesters said they were particularly upset that the facility will operate next to a government Women, Infants and Children clinic, which provides nutrition to poor women and their children.

"I think it's inappropriate," said one of the demonstrators, Al Rhomberg.

The retired Sacramento physicist was among protesters who picketed the future home of Women's Health Specialists on the 1400 block of Ethan Way. The nonprofit operates seven locations in Northern California.

Eileen Schnitger, director of public policy for Women's Health Specialists, disagreed with the characterization of the health program as an abortion clinic.

"We do provide abortions based on what a woman needs and the needs of the community," said Schnitger.

But, she added, "We're a women's health provider since 1976 and helped thousands and thousands of women a year for a whole range of services."

Schnitger said she also believes the services that Women's Health Specialists offers is entirely compatible with what WIC provides. "We have a lot in common with WIC," she said. "They have a lot of prenatal services, and we look forward to complementing each other in women's services."

The protesters had a different take.

Helena Pysna, 64, of Citrus Heights held a sign that read: "Stop Abortion Now" at the corner of Ethan Way and Hallmark Drive.

She blamed the owner of the building, Ethan Conrad, for leasing it to Women's Health Specialists.

"I think he should not get blood money from this," she said. "It's never too late to back out of this."

But Conrad disagreed.

"I signed a lease with Women's Health two and a half months ago," he said.

"I'm bound to the terms of the lease. The protesters act as if I can break the lease, which is pretty mind-boggling. (They) want me to break the law and not perform the terms of the contract. C'mon."

He said the amount of Women's Health Specialists' business related to abortions is less than 5 percent.

"It's not some abortion clinic that's cranking out abortions," he said. "They provide all kind of health services. Ninety-five percent of their services are non-abortion-related."

Still, he said, he did negotiate with Women's Health Specialists to place a "tight" restriction on the number of abortions that they could perform at the location. He declined, however, to specify the number.

"I didn't want them to turn into an abortion clinic," he said. "I want to do a good job as a landlord. I'm surprised that anyone is concerned about this."

Call The Bee's Tillie Fong, (916) 321-1006.


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