Church, Planned Parenthood Make Uneasy Neighbors

Strange bedfellows.
Strange bedfellows.
Lisa Rab

For three years, Pastor Mark Jones of the New Life Pentecostal Church in Greenacres has tolerated an unconventional neighbor. While his flock prays, employees on the other side of the duplex are giving HIV tests and passing out condoms and the morning-after pill.

Planned Parenthood, the nonprofit group that's best-known for providing abortion services, shares a building and a parking lot with the church on Lake Worth Road.

Jones isn't thrilled with the arrangement, but he takes comfort in the fact that this

particular Planned Parenthood doesn't offer surgical abortions, although it does dispense the abortion pill. Plus, it's not open on Sundays.

"I don't have any relationship with them at all," he says. "I don't speak to them."

Judith Selzer, VP of public policy for Planned Parenthood's South Florida branch, says she's not aware of any conflicts between the health office and the church -- although they're not exactly buddies.

"We've worked with a lot of churches over the years," she says. "But I can't say we've worked with that one."

Turns out, Jones has been coveting the space occupied by his neighbors and would like to buy the entire building if it goes up for sale. "We want the whole block," he explains.

He was hoping the center would be shut down because of budget cuts during the lean George W. Bush years. But since the doors are still open, he's doing his best to close them through divine intervention.

"We want to pray them out of there," he says.


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