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Port St. Lucie Mayor Gregory Oravec tells speakers the city is powerless to resist

PORT ST. LUCIE – A dozen members of the public pleaded with the City Council Nov. 25 to find a way to resist Planned Parenthood’s planned move from North Stuart to near the St. Lucie Regional Medical Center in mid-January, but the mayor insisted the city’s hands were tied by state and federal regulations.

Before Mayor Gregory Oravec invited those signed up to speak to the podium, he emphasized that the Board would have no regulatory oversight over the controversial organization’s plans to occupy the vacant building at 1696 S.E. Hillmoor Drive. He attributed the protest to the announcement of the move on the local Planned Parenthood agency’s website as the matter did not appear on that day’s agenda and would not be scheduled to come before the Council in the future.

“As a result of the laws in effect in Port St. Lucie and the state and the country, the use will not even come to the City Council for approval,” he said. “It is a medical use going into a medical office building, and the only thing required is an occupancy and zoning form and then the paying of an occupational tax. There is no decision-making that will be done by the City Council on this item – it’s all administerial… [so] we cannot provide you with the outcome that so many people have signed up to ask for.”

At the mayor’s request, Acting City Attorney James Stokes confirmed that assessment.

“It’s a permitted use in that building,” the latter emphasized. “So, while there would be inspections involved and a business application and everything, there would be no action for Council as it’s currently projected.”

The first speaker that evening, Port St. Lucie physician Dr. William Lampard, told the Board he’d delivered more than 2,000 babies during his career, but that number was dwarfed by the international organization about to set up shop in the city..

“I’ve regretfully become aware that we’re impotent at this level to act on Planned Parenthood moving in,” he said. “It’s a life and death issue that we are allowing an organization that is responsible for over 300,000 deaths a year, many, many more than happen by overdose or any other single action in our country. We’ve now ended the lives of 60 million innocent, unborn babies – that’s 10 for every one that Adolph Hitler killed in World War II.”

Sue Chess, executive director for CareNet Pregnancy Services of the Treasure Coast, said Planned Parenthood’s plans were particularly frustrating since the company hopes to open its new Port St. Lucie Clinic on Jan. 22, the 47th anniversary or Roe vs. Wade.

“You’ve seen the protesters holding signs along U.S. 1 near the mall,” she said of the North Stuart location. “Those protesters will now be across from Port St. Lucie Hospital. Do you know the only good thing about their new location? They’ll be close to the ER for any botched abortions.”

No one spoke in favor of the new Planned Parenthood clinic during the meeting, although the organization did issue a press release afterward in response defending its mission and eliciting the help of those opposed to its relocation to help prevent unwanted pregnancies through education and preventive healthcare.

“We will continue to offer a full range of reproductive health care services, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, breast exams, and pap tests,” the press release stated. “We are committed to ensuring that women have accurate information about, and access to, all of their health care options. Unfortunately, those who oppose the mission of Planned Parenthood continue to make false claims intended to mislead the public and ban safe and legal abortion. The truth is nearly one in four women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and the majority of Floridians stand with Planned Parenthood and believe in a woman’s right to control her own body.”

After the public speakers that evening, Mayor Oravec lauded their transparency and reminded them to redirect their views to governing officials higher up the chain.

“I always appreciate when the public comes out to speak, and especially the powerful testimony of those who shared very personal experiences,” he said. “It takes a lot of courage to do that.

I’m going to encourage anyone that’s so moved to continue to advocate at the state and federal levels where [issues] relating to abortion are settled. They’re not settled at your city level.”

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