NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — Faced with the looming construction of a multimillion-dollar, regional abortion facility by Planned Parenthood Gulf South, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond has cautioned local Catholics and businesses they would be “cooperating with the evil that will take place” at the clinic if they participated in its preparation or construction.
In an open letter, published on the front page of the Feb. 1 issue of the Clarion Herald, the archdiocesan newspaper, Archbishop Aymond said the caution extends to any person or business “involved in the acquisition, preparation and construction of this (abortion) facility.”
The archbishop also indicated the archdiocese would not do future business “with any person or organization that participates in actions that are essential to making this abortion facility a reality.”
“This policy applies to all businesses, regardless of religious affiliation or nonaffiliation,” Archbishop Aymond wrote. “Our fidelity to church teaching and our conscience necessitates this stance.”
Planned Parenthood currently operates two clinics in Louisiana — in New Orleans and Baton Rouge — but does not perform abortions in the state.
In its public statements about the proposed 7,000- to 8,000-square-foot facility, located about five minutes from two universities and on a site easily accessible by public transportation, Planned Parenthood Gulf South indicated it would seek a state license to perform abortions.
There are five, free-standing abortion clinics in Louisiana — in New Orleans, Metairie, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Bossier City — but Archbishop Aymond said the proposed regional abortion clinic will be “the largest of its kind in Louisiana.”
Using information obtained from a construction permit that was approved by the city of New Orleans in December, experts have determined that Planned Parenthood could perform “upwards of 30 abortions per day,” Archbishop Aymond said.
“This is a staggering increase in the number of abortions in light of the 3,496 abortions performed in 2012 in Orleans and Jefferson parishes,” the archbishop wrote.
The archbishop’s letter cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, saying the church since the first century has considered abortion “a grave evil.”
“We cannot be silent in view of the grave injustice presented by the abortions that will be performed at the proposed Planned Parenthood facility,” Archbishop Aymond wrote.
He said there was “no justification, including economic hardship,” that would make either a direct or indirect relationship with Planned Parenthood or any abortion provider “acceptable.”
Archbishop Aymond added that any “affiliation or support” of Planned Parenthood by Catholics would be “a matter of serious scandal.”
Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, praised the archbishop for the letter, saying his stance was “edifying and strengthens what we are doing.”
“It should be a model for other religious leaders, not only in this state but in other areas,” Clapper said. “Most of the time people expect the bishop to say things and to teach principles, but I don’t believe most people expect a bishop to make this real-life, declarative statement that actually impacts the corporate world.
“When you have such a powerful institution in this city saying this, it makes people notice who Planned Parenthood really is,” Clapper added. “Planned Parenthood is selling itself as one thing and they are another thing. He’s technically not doing anything new — he’s just applying Catholic principles to a situation. We have a leader willing to go to the wall for this cause and give us the strength and the energy to stand for life.”
Archbishop Aymond asked Catholics to pray “for those that are blind to the destruction caused by abortion,” and he invited Planned Parenthood officials and supporters to “prayer and dialogue.”
“There are many issues, from violence in the streets to poverty, which hurt this community,” he wrote. “A regional abortion center will not solve our problems; it will only create more. This is not the future the New Orleans metropolitan area needs.”
Finney is executive editor/general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the New Orleans Archdiocese.