The owners of a Kensington office building are trying to evict a health center that performs abortions because the owners say protests against the clinic have made it difficult to find other tenants.
The Cygma Heath Center at 3750 University Blvd. West has filed suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court seeking to block the eviction this month by BAR Properties.
At issue is whether the clinic has violated a clause in the lease agreement that allows abortions to be performed, but prohibits the use of the center as an abortion clinic.
In a letter last month notifying the operators of the clinic of the impending eviction, the owners said that "the operation as a clinic for performing abortions has resulted in the appearance of protesters at the front of the building."
The letter added that the protests "harm the landlord's ability to attract tenants" and have created security problems.
Gail Frances, an owner of the clinic, signed a 10-year lease last year for the third-floor office. She said the center has seven physicians offering numerous health services that include abortions as well as family planning.
Frances said the center "definitely isn't an abortion clinic" and that protests outside the building have been infrequent and small.
T.R. Barker, a spokesman for the owners, said they have received "threats" that there would be additional protests if the Cygma Health Center is allowed to stay.
In the last two years a series of bombing attacks and violent protests has been directed against abortion clinics and family planning centers around the country, including two bombs that were exploded only minutes apart in Montgomery County in 1984.
Diana Traub, a spokeswoman for the Reproductive Freedom Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, said landlord-tenant disputes may represent a "new tactic" in the controversy over abortion.
"Depending on whether the landlord wins, this may be the beginning of a trend where instead of taking action against the abortion demonstrators, the landlords will go after the clinics," Traub said.