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Contractor built churches, now abortion facility

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- A group of Southern Baptist pastors and the local Catholic archdiocese are among those upset about a $6.5 million Planned Parenthood facility going up next to a prominent adoption center in Fort Worth Texas.

Planned Parenthood confirmed plans for the 19,000-square-foot facility, complete with an ambulatory surgical center, on its website and in news reports on March 30.

Construction is taking place in southwest Fort Worth next to the Edna Gladney Center, a well-respected adoption agency known throughout the Southwest.

The general contractor on the project, The DeMoss Company, has built numerous structures for churches and religious organizations, including three Southern Baptist churches in Tarrant County, Texas, that have asked DeMoss to remove their endorsements from the company's website.

Fort Worth pastors Al Meredith of Wedgwood Baptist Church and Michael Dean of Travis Avenue Baptist Church, and Russ Barksdale, pastor of The Church on Rush Creek in Arlington, sent letters asking company head Jim DeMoss to remove their churches' names from photos and a list of endorsers because of objections to the abortion services of Planned Parenthood.

DeMoss' wife, Margaret DeMoss, is listed as a Fort Worth co-chair for a Planned Parenthood capital campaign that includes the funding for the new facility.

Planned Parenthood performed more than 330,000 abortions nationally in 2009, the last available report from the Planned Parenthood-related Guttmacher Institute.

A spokesman for the Fort Worth Catholic archdiocese said the DeMoss Company had complied with a request on March 29 to remove its endorsements for work done at local Catholic churches and facilities.

Also, a subcontractor pulled his workers off the job out of "Christian conviction" upon learning of the facility's purpose, Meredith told the Texan.


"One of the subcontractor's truckers asked what the deal was, and when he told him, the trucker put his hands on shoulder and told him that his legs felt like jelly," Meredith explained.

"That's my point. You don't honor other people's convictions by sneaking this by them," Meredith said of the stealth in which the project was begun this winter. Meredith said rumors about it had swirled for months, but little was known. "You don't hoodwink people into building something that violates their conscience."

But Meredith said his biggest concern is the ambulatory surgical center, which he said indicates surgical abortions, perhaps late-term, would be performed there.

"You don't need an ambulatory surgical center to do routine health exams," Meredith said. "That's for late-term abortions. I'm afraid we are going to be a hub for late-term abortions in North Texas and Oklahoma. That's my concern. Of course, Planned Parenthood hasn't said yea or nay."

The facility is scheduled for completion in 2013, a Planned Parenthood official told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The facility will be three times the size of the current Fort Worth Planned Parenthood facility, according to the Planned Parenthood of North Texas website. It is part of a $21.5 million capital campaign called "Shaping Our Community, Our Health, Our Future." So far, the group reports raising $18.8 million.

Planned Parenthood officials did not respond to the Texan's request for comment on the new facility, but the group's North Texas CEO told the Fort Worth paper that because of Tarrant County's rapid growth, "a new, state-of-the-art health center" was needed.


Meanwhile, an Edna Gladney spokeswoman was busy on March 30 disputing an erroneous report by a Dallas television station stating that Gladney once owned the property the Planned Parenthood facility is being built on.

Jennifer Lanter told the TEXAN she wants Gladney supporters to know "we are remaining true and committed to our mission," which includes taking adoption referrals from diverse sources, from crisis pregnancy centers to churches to Planned Parenthood.

She said the TV station might have inferred that because Gladney owns property from the 6300 to the 6450 block of John Ryan Dr. in Fort Worth, and because the address reported to news outlets for the Planned Parenthood facility is 6400, that Gladney owned the property at some point.

"We have never owned that property," Lanter said, adding that the organization is seeking to find out why the 6400 address was cited.

Dean, of Travis Avenue Baptist Church, said when he heard about the new Planned Parenthood facility, he was grieved on several fronts. He has seen the detrimental effects abortion has not only on the unborn but on the mothers and other family members also, he said.

Also, "when it comes to civil rights in America today, one group systematically is denied their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that's the unborn," Dean said. "If we are concerned about justice as the Scripture teaches us to be, then we have to be concerned about the issue of abortion."

Barksdale, lead pastor at the Arlington church, complained in his letter to DeMoss that the company was using a "clandestine" approach and asked that any mention of The Church on Rush Creek be removed from electronic or printed promotional materials.


"It's difficult for me to see why DeMoss would be a part of something so onerous as building a clinic where human life is ruthlessly and brutally terminated," Barksdale wrote in his letter to DeMoss. "Any abortion, particularly the late-term abortions performed by Planned Parenthood, shows a callous disregard for the sanctity of human life. I am appalled that you or your formerly reputable company would have anything to do with it."

Dean said as of March 30, DeMoss had removed its entire religious projects section from its website.

Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist Texan (, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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