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Planned Parenthood Fighting 2004 'Temporary' Ban

Lawyers for a Kissimmee Planned Parenthood facility generated sharp exchanges Wednesday as they tried to convince the Florida Supreme Court to lift a “temporary” injunction against abortions.

Two years ago, another tenant in Oak Commons Medical Park convinced a circuit judge Planned Parenthood would violate deed covenants if it performed abortions.

MMB Properties attorney Dennis O’Connor reminded justices that at an initial hearing, a Planned Parenthood witness never downplayed the number of abortions.

“She did not say that surgical abortions are incidental and ancillary to the practice of Planned Parenthood. That silence is deafening.”

Planned Parenthood attorneys say all of its abortions are “ancillary” procedures allowed by the deed restrictions because they are most medical practices.

Attorney Don Christopher told justices the deed restrictions are there to limit competition, not to set social policy.

“They didn’t want somebody in the private sector going out and setting up a competing emergency room that might draw patients away from their emergency room. They didn’t want somebody to set up a competing diagnostic imaging center.”

Justice Peggy Quince, one of only two women on the court, appeared to agree.

“So if there’s 100 percent of something going on at this center and abortions constitute 1 percent of it, it seems kind of ancillary.”

The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach has issued conflicting rulings in the case.  Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is allowing abortions to continue while it weighs the issues.

There’s no indication when the court will rule. But Justice Barbara Pariente said she was frustrated by the notion of a two-year-old “temporary” injunction.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.