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Pregnancy center sues Raleigh City Council for right to use its own property

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In July, North Carolina’s Raleigh City Council voted to prohibit A Hand of Hope pregnancy center from beginning operations on its own property, which is located next to an abortion clinic.

Now, the pregnancy center is taking legal action against the city, for what it claims are violations of constitutional rights.

A Hand of Hope Executive Director Tonya Baker Nelson argued that the pregnancy center has a right to operate out of its own property. “We own that property,” said Nelson, “and we think we have a constitutional right to operate our ministry out of property we own.”

Prior to Raleigh’s rejection of the pregnancy centers plan, the neighborhood’s Citizen Advisory Council voted in favor of it, 30-17, according to the lawsuit. The Raleigh Planning Commission also voted – unanimously – to recommend the City Council approve A Hand of Hope’s move. Yet for some reason, the Council decided to reject the move.

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Councilwoman Kay Crowder claimed the property would better comply with the city’s Comprehensive Plan if it were “rezoned as part of a larger commercial project.”

But Nelson believes she sees an agenda behind the decision. In it’s lawsuit, A Hand of Hope contends that the decision was politically motivated…

Upon information and belief, the City Council denied the application because the City Council did not want Hand of Hope, which communicated the gospel message and a pro-life message, located next door to an established abortion clinic.

A Hand of Hope’s attorney, Noel Sterett, argues that federal law prohibits the city from blocking the pregnancy center from operating out of its own property. “The City Council is not above the law and tried to hide their political power play,” said Sterett. “Thankfully,” continued Sterett, “the federal law was put in place to prevent politicians from masking their political preferences behind broad discretionary regulations.”

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