Planned Parenthood fund-raiser to meet anti-abortion protesters (Detroit Free Press)

By Megha Satyanarayana.

Posted July 8, 2011 on Detroit Free Press.

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Published: 07.08.11| Updated: 07.08.11

With promises of protests by anti-abortion activists, the co-creator of "The Daily Show" will host a comedy fund-raiser Saturday night for Planned Parenthood in Pontiac.

Lizz Winstead's first stop on her tour comes as Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan is at a standstill in its efforts to open a clinic in Auburn Hills because of litigation.

"Every woman I know has used Planned Parenthood. I am no exception," Winstead told the Free Press.

But several groups don't want her or Planned Parenthood there.

"We are picketing the Planned Parenthood fund-raiser to send a public message that this group kills innocent human life, and its clinic, indeed its whole anti-life agenda, is not wanted," said Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society.

Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan CEO Lori Lamerand said state officials indicated there was federal funding for a clinic with a sliding pay scale like theirs in Oakland County. Federal money does not fund abortions, and the organization hasn't decided whether to provide them at the Auburn Hills site.

The Mid and South Michigan chapter bought the building on North Opdyke Road in November. She said about 5,500 Oakland County clients leave the area to access Planned Parenthood's other clinics.

"We're trying to lessen that burden," she said.

Before the purchase, Planned Parenthood's lawyers approached Shri Sai-Krishna Group, owner of the Comfort Suites Hotel directly behind the building. At one time, the hotel and office building were on one piece of land that was split for sale. Shri Sai-Krishna Group bought half for its hotel in 1999, contingent on a restrictive covenant on the other half, holding its use to retail, restaurant or office applications.

The owner of Shri Sai-Krishna agreed that a medical office was acceptable, and Planned Parenthood's sale proceeded.

Then, after one of his students attended an anti-abortion meeting and learned of the covenant, Cooley Law School professor James Carey took on the land-use issue of the privately drawn restrictive covenant versus city ordinance, Miller said.

Carey, who represents the hotel, said the hotel owner was not told that the lawyers represented Planned Parenthood, and that the restrictive covenant does not permit office use be medical.

On May 31, Planned Parenthood filed suit against Shri Sai-Krishna to stop it from blocking the clinic.

"Tell us you're not going to do any procedures ... and this problem goes away," Carey said.

Lamerand said she is confident Planned Parenthood will succeed because it's a land-use issue and not political. The next filing is due next week.

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