Divine Intervention

The Robbinsdale Clinic tries to offer reproductive services, but its neighbor keeps getting in the way

"They may be helping some people," Johnson offers. "But for the most part it's all miscommunication."

While the problem with the center has left the clinic staff with little recourse, they have been able to get the deer-stand perch moved back from the fence--but only by a mere 18 inches. Johnson also has had little luck finding anyone to ensure that the center follows the requirements laid out in a 1992 Hennepin County court ruling, when the clinic filed a restraining order against the center.

According to court documents, Judge Franklin Knoll declared that the center is prohibited from using "Robbinsdale Women's Center" unless the disclaimer, "Alternative Abortion Services: not affiliated with the Robbinsdale Clinic, P.A." is prominently displayed at all public entrances. The center has a placard with the disclaimer at its side entrance. But in the back entrance, where visitors are instructed to park, no sign exists. "As far as I know, we're only required to have one sign," Benicke offers.

"So many women who wind up over there have been told a whole set of info that isn't true": Janet Nelson, a counselor at the Robbinsdale Clinic, with an anti-abortion neighbor looming
Diana Watters
"So many women who wind up over there have been told a whole set of info that isn't true": Janet Nelson, a counselor at the Robbinsdale Clinic, with an anti-abortion neighbor looming

The dispute between the neighbors probably won't go away anytime soon. The May 2005 passing of Minnesota's Positive Alternatives Act, a state grant program that gives state funding to crisis pregnancy groups that oppose abortion, promises that the center only stands to gain more funding, which it currently receives from private donations and churches. "We're not ruling it out as an option [for funding]," Benicke says. "It's an issue for the board to decide. It really is going to depend on what the restrictions are."

Johnson, meanwhile, is left feeling more defeated than ever. "In the age that I am, in my entire adult life that I have been lobbying for reproductive freedom--why does it seem like we're going so far backwards?"

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