Binghamton PRESS & SUN, 8/19/97, page B1
New Sidney Planned Parenthood clinic protested
Office at site of former parish convent
BY LINDA JUMP
SIDNEY - About two dozen people carrying placards Monday protested the opening of a Planned Parenthood clinic at a former convent in Sidney.
The 37 Pleasant St. site, once a convent, was used most recently by the Rainbow Daycare Center. Edward Szymkowiak , a member of a coalition against Planned Parenthood , said in a statement: "The diabolic irony of having the world's largest abortion chain in the same building, possibly the same room that once housed the most Blessed Sacrament is too horrible to contemplate."
Szymkowiak said the site was owned until about 1980 by Sacred Heart Parish of Sidney and housed the Sisters of St. Joseph. He and others, he said, attended the regular daily Mass and rosary at the Sacred Heart Parish at 9 a.m. before walking to the clinic to begin the protest on the sidewalk in front of the building, which Planned Parenthood owns.
Debra Marcus, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Delaware and Otsego Counties, said no abortions a re performed at the clinics in Oneonta, Walton, Hancock or Sidney "and we have not intentions of doing that."
Instead, she said, comprehensive gynecological care is offered to women and primary care to men and women on a sliding scale. "What they're actually picketing is cancer screening and other care for women that may not have any other place to go," Marcus said.
Jean Naples of Oneonta, who participated in the picket, said she's saddened that Planned Parenthood is opening another clinic.
"They're spreading their tentacles and corrupting our youth," she said. She went as a witness, she said, to "issue a warning to teens that safe sex can kill you." Her message is to abstain from sexual activity until marriage "but if you get pregnant, have the baby. Don't kill it."
Szymkowiak said protesters were demonstrating to give women an option. He hopes to encourage a group such as Birthright, an organization encouraging young women to deliver their babies, to open a crisis pregnancy center in Sidney as an alternative.
Marcus said local officials and resident support the new clinic, which will begin offering medical services soon. "We are there for the women and men in the tri-county area," she said. She said a formal ribbon-cutting is planned in September, with the clinic opening soon.
Beginning Monday, she said, telephone lines were installed, rolling over to Oneonta for appointments.