Lisa Hays, spokeswoman for the Concerned Citizens of the High Desert, smiled from beneath her straw hat which shaded her from the strong sun setting on the horizon.
The scene will replay every evening from late June through the first week in August as countless cars honk in solidarity with the waving men, women and teens. Representing communities and churches from throughout the High Desert, their faithful presence voices concern over the intentions of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, to expand its business to Victorville. The 10,000 square foot clinic, a former children’s pizza restaurant, would be Planned Parenthood’s largest in San Bernardino County, intending to bring in 20,000 clients per year.
On May 8, 200 citizens filled the Victorville City Council chamber to voice their opposition. Among the attendees were Father Patrick Travers, SSCC, pastor of Holy Innocents parish in Victorville and Dennis Morris, co-founder of Moses House (Pregnancy Resource) Ministries, who presented the Council with thousands of signatures gathered from diverse faith communities including Our Lady of the Desert in Apple Valley and Holy Family in Hesperia, petitioning the Council to deny Planned Parenthood’s application for a building permit.
Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron, acting as a private citizen, filed an appeal based on public safety and economic concerns to the Victorville Planning Commission. The Commission was to vote on a conditional use permit for the Planned Parenthood facility. The challenge in this decision is that while its business is morally objectionable to the Catholic faith and many others, that is not a factor in whether or not it meets city zoning requirements for the property.
On June 11 100 High Desert residents, including Father Ciro Libanati, pastor of St. Joan of Arc in Victorville, prayed the rosary and encircled the proposed Planned Parenthood site reciting: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endures forever.”
On June 13, 600 citizens filled the 150 seat Victorville Council chamber, hallways, adjacent meeting room, and parking lot. Citizen after citizen implored the Planning Commission to protect the High Desert community. Members of the Planning Commission were apologetic when it ultimately rejected the appeal, saying they agreed with the citizens’ concerns but were legally obligated to grant the permit. This loss, however, provided the opportunity for the community to appeal the permit to the City Council later this summer.
Until then the Concerned Citizens of the High Desert invite the enthusiastic participation of every Catholic parish and faith community in a daily peaceful, prayerful presence on the corner of Palmdale Road and Park Avenue in Victorville, just off Interstate 15, from 4-7 pm and at one hour Prayer Vigils every Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Planned Parenthood site around the corner, 15403 Park Avenue East.
For more information contact Concerned Citizens of the High Desert: English: Lisa Hays @ 760.449.1717 Spanish: Martin Barrera: 760.596.0365 or Pro Life Catholic Ministries English: 909.475.5350 Spanish: 909.475.5476.
Marie Widmann is director of the Office of Pro Life Ministries in the Diocese of San Bernardino.