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Concrete realities

National | UPDATE: Austin, Texas, Planned Parenthood boycott crumbles after a concrete supplier reverses course; pro-life executive resigns after his company poured the foundation for a 9,000-square-foot abortion business

Issue: "Remaking the family," March 6, 2004

When Mark Hamilton on Jan. 28 checked in at his office at Rainbow Materials, Inc., the company's credit manager greeted him with a flurry of questions: "What's going on at 201 East Ben White?" the manager asked, mildly perturbed. "There's no job set up in the system. What's going on?"

Mr. Hamilton, then Rainbow's vice president for sales, knew the address. It was the site of the "Choice Project," a 25,000-square-foot Planned Parenthood health complex and abortion business under construction near low-income neighborhoods in Austin, Texas. The project had for months been the target of a successful construction boycott organized by Texas Contractors and Suppliers for Life (TCSL), a tiny band of grassroots pro-life activists.

Rainbow Materials, Inc., had since October been among 18 Austin concrete suppliers and other firms that snubbed the project, bringing construction on the 1.9-acre site to a halt in November 2003. But in early January, Rainbow owner Ramon Carrasquillo suddenly reversed course and said he would supply the concrete after all.

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Still, Mr. Hamilton, a staunchly pro-life Catholic who had helped organize the TCSL boycott, didn't consider that the end of the matter. He prayed that his boss would change his mind again. And when Mr. Hamilton left his office on the evening of Jan. 27, that outcome still looked possible: The Planned Parenthood job did not appear on Rainbow's tracking board, and as far as he knew, no date had been set for the foundation to be poured.

That's why the credit manager's next-morning questions about East Ben White puzzled him: "What do you mean, 'What's going on?'" Mr. Hamilton asked.

The manager gave him an odd look and replied, "They poured the foundation last night."

Mr. Hamilton resigned on the spot. "They were trying to hide the job from me," he told WORLD that day. "I talked to one of the dispatchers. He told me, 'We weren't supposed to let you know.'"

The pouring of the Choice Project's foundation marked a major victory for Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region. The group last September broke ground on the $6.2 million complex, which will include a 9,000-square-foot abortion and medical clinic and space for training pro-abortion activists. Planned Parenthood proclaimed on its website that the new facility was a step toward fulfilling the group's new role as a "guarantor" of women's access to abortion.

That role seemed in jeopardy for nearly four months as TCSL waged war with letters, e-mails, and face-to-face sit-downs with Austin construction firms. The pro-life group informed contractors that a list of those who participated in the Choice Project would be circulated among area church building committees-committees that were unlikely to do future business with companies that helped build an "abortion chamber." By November 2003, at least 40 contractors, including every concrete supplier within 60 miles of Austin, had refused to supply labor or materials to build the new clinic.

No concrete meant no foundation. No foundation meant no further construction. General contractor Browning Construction in November bowed out of the project, bringing construction to an abrupt halt.

But in early January, the seemingly solid wall of opposition cracked. Dallas-based firm CD Henderson stepped in to replace Browning as the Choice Project's general contractor. Then, a trickle of workmen-at least one who covered the company logo on his truck with black tape-began puttering around the site, which for two months had sat largely deserted. Finally, the foundation was poured.

And Rainbow lost a valued executive. With a wife, two kids in school (including one headed for college next year), and a mortgage to pay, Mr. Hamilton needed the job. He had only been with Rainbow since the summer of 2003, after 23 years with another construction firm in Austin. He left that job after a management shake-up: In line for the company presidency, Mr. Hamilton was passed over when the firm's board gave the job to another man. The board did not feel Mr. Hamilton would be able to get over the snub and let him go.

"That really shook me to the bone," Mr. Hamilton said. "But over the last couple of years on my faith journey, I've grown to see that the Lord is going to provide." After resigning from Rainbow, he said as much to his daughter Andrea, 17, a high-school junior. As a 47-year-old out-of-work executive looking for a job in an Austin industry polarized by a boycott he helped organize, Mr. Hamilton told his daughter, "Don't worry. With God's help, we'll get through this."

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