In the latest in a series of conservative-led attacks on women’s reproductive rights, New York’s Sunset Park Clinic will no longer offer abortion services in the face of a Catholic protest group’s ongoing harassment of doctors and patients.
According to the New York Daily News, the 22-year-old establishment is being forced to shutter its doors and offer significantly reduced services after the so-called “Helpers of God’s Precious Infants” incited enough protests to drive away doctors and patients in droves:
Abortion advocates said they had never heard of a clinic in the city closing under pressure from protesters.
“It was getting more and more difficult. Doctors were getting harassed and patients were getting harassed,” said building and clinic owner Terry Lazar about his decision to eliminate abortions. “It was a decision we finally had to make.”
Lazar said the clinic tried to provide both abortions and other types of procedures, but doctors and patients refused to cross the throngs of religious protesters who tried to convince them not to go in.
“You had protesters with signs and banners yelling at people telling them they were baby killers,” Lazar said. “We were trying to do both and it just wasn’t working. We would have gone out of business.”
The clinic, which will reopen under the name New York Center for Specialty Surgery, will offer only outpatient surgeries after completing renovations. The “victory” for the anti-abortion activists come at the cost of essential services for women and is a cautionary tale for supporters of reproductive rights in New York.
“It’s really a shame. I feel very badly and I’m disappointed about it,” said Julie Kashner, president of the Brooklyn and Queens chapter of the National Organization for Women. “This means that women will have to be inconvenienced to get their health care. If [the clinic on 43rd St.] closed down, this could mean future closings and that’s very disappointing.”