PLATTSBURGH — City councilors approved a request for a group to use three parking spaces in front of Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York for a prayer vigil on Good Friday.
The request came from the Apostles for Life, who will occupy the spaces in front of 66 Brinkerhoff St. from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Friday.
The group, which prays for an end to abortion, has performed the prayer vigil in front of Planned Parenthood on Good Friday for more than a decade now, as the procedure is done there.
NO PUBLIC COMMENT
The request has sparked controversy in the past, with some objecting to the prayer vigil itself, saying it is disruptive to clients utilizing Planned Parenthood.
Others have been concerned about three parking spaces being tied up on a busy street close to downtown during business hours.
No one from the public showed up to address the matter this year.
The request for this year’s vigil was approved by a 5-to-1 vote, with Councilors Timothy Carpenter (D-Ward 1), George Rabideau (R-Ward 3), James Calnon (I-Ward 4), Chris Case (D-Ward 5) and Chris Jackson (D-Ward 6) voting in favor.
“In the interests of free speech, I vote ‘yes,’” Calnon said.
Mark Tiffer (D-Ward 2) voted against the request but did not say why at the meeting.
Contacted by the Press-Republican later, Tiffer said his vote had nothing to do with Apostles for Life or its supporters.
“This has more to do with the venue that they are choosing to occupy. I do not believe it is appropriate to allow an organization or group of people to target or interfere with the business of another organization, in particular, Planned Parenthood,” he wrote in an email.
“Many young women and men use Planned Parenthood as a primary health-care facility ... patients should not have to be inconvenienced, belittled or intimidated. I am not saying this is their intent, but there are unintended consequences for one’s actions.”