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City Okays $325,000 For Abortion Doctor

By Editorial Staff
Published May 21, 1996

Abortion Doctor Agrees To Drop Suit Vs. Orlando

By Sherri M. Owens of The Sentinel Staff

The city of Orlando on Monday agreed to pay Dr. James Scott Pendergraft $325,000 to settle his lawsuit, but the victory did not come easily for the gynecologist who performs abortions.

In fact, it almost didn’t happen.

Led by Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, the council initially voted to reject the settlement, though doing so would likely have cost the city even more in a court battle.

But after a 30-minute recess and private meeting with their lawyers, council members unanimously reversed their decision. Council member Frankee Hellinger abstained.

“We felt we needed a clear understanding of our options,” said Hood, explaining the unusual decision to recess in the middle of a council meeting.

During the recess, however, Pendergraft considered withdrawing his offer, his spokesperson, Marti Mackenzie, said. Mackenzie was in New York but spoke with the doctor by phone.

“This is not a time for celebration,” she said after learning of the council’s vote in her client’s favor. “It’s a time for acceptance of something that’s in the best interest of the community.”

The settlement includes payment for all damages including loss of past and future income, loss of good will to Pendergraft’s business and attorney’s fees, said Jeff Slater, lead outside counsel for the city. In exchange, Pendergraft drops his lawsuit.

The doctor sued the city in December, demanding lost wages and legal fees of as much as $1 million. The city had tried to keep him from opening his Orlando Women’s Center, which performs gynecological procedures including second-trimester abortions.

City officials had argued that second-trimester recovery time would be 90 minutes or more, making Pendergraft’s facility a clinic in an area zoned for medical offices and homes.

But Pendergraft’s attorneys argued that the recovery time for second-trimester abortions is 50 minutes, making his facility an office and within city zoning laws.

In Monday’s closed-door meeting with attorneys, the council was reminded of the strongly worded 51-page order issued by U.S. District Judge Patricia Fawsett. It rejected the city’s recovery-time argument and gave Pendergraft permission to perform later-term abortions at his facility, about a half-mile from City Hall at 1103 Lucerne Terrace.

“The (Orlando City) Council had reached the decision that it did not want Dr. Pendergraft to open his facility . . . before the hearing began and then searched for a method to deny (his) applications,” Fawsett wrote in her April 18 ruling. “The city denied his application without the substantial justification required by law.”

It was largely because of that ruling that the council changed its vote.

“I’m still not in favor of that operation at that location or anywhere in the city of Orlando, but I think we have to reconsider in light of that ruling,” council member Sheldon Watson said before the second vote.

Hood said the city was “between a rock and a hard place” and that the decision was a blow to home rule – allowing a community to set its own guidelines.

Had the rejection of the settlement not been overturned, the city would have faced Pendergraft in court early next year, Slater said.

Attorneys for both sides, meanwhile, would have continued to add to their legal fees. “As far as costs and attorney fees,” Slater said, “we may have just seen the tip of the iceberg.”

City staff has been advised to reexamine the land-use ordinances that define medical offices and medical clinics “so we don’t find ourselves in a situation like this in the future,” Hood said.


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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

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Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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