The Holmesburg Civic Association last week rejected a bid by the faith-based nonprofit Magnolia Women’s Center to provide services to pregnant women and mothers of small children in a space in the rear of a church at 7811 Frankford Ave.
The services include pregnancy testing, an ultrasound to determine the viability and dating of the pregnancy, a support system, resources and educational classes.
All services would be free at Magnolia, which relies on donations. Hours would be weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing is Nov. 15. Magnolia is represented by lawyer Michael Mattioni, and needs a variance to perform ultrasounds because of an overlay that prohibits medical use in that area.
The three-person Holmesburg Civic board did not have a problem with most of the services planned, but did object to the ultrasound, labeling Magnolia “anti-choice” because it will not refer women for abortions.
Melissa Aguilera, executive director at Magnolia, said many young women are scared, confused and lost as they face a pregnancy, and her center is there to help.
“Every woman deserves to have options,” she said.
Tara Gontek, president of the civic, read a bad review about the women’s clinic associated with Magnolia’s board president, and suggested that could be typical of crisis pregnancy centers.
Gontek also noted there would be no medical doctor on site.
“That’s not a medical office, in our opinion,” she said.
The Rev. Darren Umble, pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church of Holmesburg, spoke via Zoom in strong support of Magnolia.
Gontek said civic bylaws allow a unanimous opinion of the board to stand, without a vote of membership. Two other non-board members were clearly against the ultrasounds. Gontek asked if anybody objected to skipping a membership vote. There were only two other people eligible to vote, including Umble, so a vote would have been futile.
The civic will write a letter of opposition.
In other news from the Oct. 10 meeting:
• Renee Cohen has been nominated to fill the vacant vice president position on the civic board. Barb Kleschick was nominated for another term as treasurer.
• The 15th Police District Advisory Council will meet on Monday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. at Mayfair Community Center, 2990 St. Vincent St. ••