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Contractor Drops Out of Austin, TX, Abortion Facility

Wed November 12, 2003 - National Edition

AUSTIN, TX (AP) One of the state’s largest construction contractors has dropped a contract to build a Planned Parenthood facility where abortions would be provided, about six weeks after the start of a locally organized boycott of the project.

Danielle Tierney, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region, said San Antonio-based Browning Construction Co. pulled out of the project Nov. 4.

Tierney called the boycott organized by Austin area subcontractors who oppose the facility a “campaign of harassment and intimidation” and vowed the building would be completed.

“We knew full well there would be harassment,” she said. “We will get it done.”

Browning owner James Browning did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Nov. 5.

Planned Parenthood broke ground in September on the privately funded $6.2 million facility, which will include a medical facility that will provide abortions.

Planned Parenthood currently does not perform abortions in the Austin area. The facility is slated to open by fall 2004.

The Austin Area Pro-Life Concrete Contractors and Suppliers Association announced the boycott shortly before the project began. Chairman Chris Danze, owner of Maldonado and Danze Inc., an Austin concrete contractor, said every concrete supplier within 60 miles of Austin had agreed not to supply materials.

Tierney said one subcontractor, which she would not identify, had received more than 1,200 calls from around the country urging it not to participate in the project. She said contractors have been threatened with the loss of business if they did.

“This is not a simple demonstration of free speech rights,” she said. “This is denying people affordable health care and reproductive rights.”

Danze, however, said he believes most of the calls have been local and that it would continue. He hopes the boycott will spark a wave a similar efforts around the country.

“Planned Parenthood is an organization with a health care wrapper but it is a social movement at its core, a social movement that promotes sexual chaos, especially of our youth,” Danze said. “Out of that chaos come the violence of abortion.”

Danze said he called Browning when the boycott started. He said the telephone calls are not harassment.

“If they have evidence we did something illegal, they need to call the district attorney’s office," he said. "(The boycott) is absolutely moral and ethical.”

Kae McLaughlin, director of the Texas Abortion and Reproduction Action League, said she expects the Austin community to rally support for the facility. Most of the facility’s functions would not involve abortion, she said.

“This called into question the values of Austin,” McLaughlin said. “People here have a tradition of being diverse and tolerant. I want to see are the people of Austin going to stand up for their values and call the mayor”s office and the contractors and say that we have support for women’s health in this community?”