MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — After listening to hours of public comment Tuesday, commissioners voted to end Planned Parenthood’s lease at the Muskegon County Health Department’s building.
The 6-2 decision means Planned Parenthood has 90 days to move out of the rooms it rents at the health department — though at least one commisstioner that an extension may be granted if necessary.
When Planned Parenthood signed the lease in 2010, the county said it didn’t need the rooms. Now, the health department says it does need the space for the immunization program and to provide other health services, arguing the current space is so small it violates privacy laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act. But Planned Parenthood wondered if it was actually a political issue.
A line of hundreds of people who wanted to speak at the county commission meeting stretched down the block from the Louis McMurray Transit Center in Muskegon Heights Tuesday afternoon. Many carried signs reading things like “Evict Planned Parenthood” or “Women for reclaiming our health department” or wore stickers that said, “I stand with Planned Parenthood.” Some took the day off work to be there.
Once inside, the meeting was standing room only. People waited hours for two minutes addressing commissioners.
Many said the real dispute was over abortion, though the Muskegon Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform them. Many argued having an organization at the center of a charged political debate inside of a county building made for bad optics.
Public comment started around 3:30 p.m. and, with a break, lasted until around 8:20 p.m.
Commissioners voted around 8:45 p.m. Their decision was met by claps and cheers from those who wanted Planned Parenthood out.
—24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker contributed to this report.
**Correction: A previous version of this article stated the meeting was at the Muskegon County Hall of Justice. It was actually held at the transit center in Muskegon Heights. We regret the error, which has been corrected.