Planned Parenthood facility contractors cited

NEW ORLEANS - More than a year after protesters gathered at the groundbreaking of a controversial new planned parenthood facility on S. Claiborne Avenue, work is far from being finished.

Grass is about all that's going up at the construction site these days. The state says there's been no work on the new Planned Parenthood facility on S. Claiborne Avenue since July.

That's when the Louisiana Licensing Board cited contractors for two violations, resulting in thousands of dollars in fines.

State documents show general contractor Barre McNeely Investments was cited for using only its initials on contracts, when a full name is required by law. Plus, it pleaded no contest to hiring an unlicensed St. Rose subcontractor, Quality Diamond Products.

"When a contractor hires someone who is not properly licensed, it takes time they have to replace their subcontractor, so yes, it can hold a project up," said Brent Templet, Licensing Board for Contractors compliance division.

Among a range of services, the facility will offer abortions, making it the site of several protests over the last year.

"Less contractors want to do work with an abortion facility. They're hesitant to work with Planned Parenthood because they will be doing abortions there," said Ben Clapper, executive director of the pro-life group Louisiana Right to Life.

"We feel the women of New Orleans deserve access to quality compassionate safe and accessible health care," said Jessie Nieblas, co-founder of the New Orleans Abortion Fund. "Delaying access to these services is not going to be good for people in our community."

A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman did not say if the organization has been able to hire a new subcontractor, but said weather was mostly to blame for the latest delays.

In an emailed statement, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokeswoman Jewel Bush said, "Like other construction projects, ours has several delays due to weather, construction vendor issues and general scheduling challenges. However, unlike other construction projects, local construction professionals have been subjected to intimidation campaigns that attempt to bully and harass them for working on this health center. Business owners and their employees should not be bullied for simply conducting business and doing their jobs."

The issue comes months after Archbishop Gregory Aymond wrote a letter saying the Archdiocese would boycott any person or business who works on the facility.

Planned Parenthood says it is still working to open the facility by next year.

Templet said the violations are not uncommon for contractors working on large projects.


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