The Contractor Who Said 'No.'
When Planned Parenthood rolled out a plan last year to build a $6.2 million abortion facility in Austin, Texas, Chris Danze rolled in a virtual roadblock.
The owner of Maldonado & Danze, a concrete-foundation contractor, and the president of Texas Contractors and Suppliers for Life, Danze organized a boycott of the construction project by building contractors. This led to the general contractor pulling out — which brought construction to a standstill for more than two months.
Danze spoke with Register staff writer Tim Drake about the events that led to, and followed, the boycott.
Did you grow up Catholic?
Yes, I was born and raised Catholic. I attended Catholic schools through the sixth grade and the Dominican nuns made an impact on me. There are two things that I took away from my time with them. First, that God loves every one of us. Second, that we need to be prepared to suffer to defend the faith and to defend our brothers and sisters. That's stuck with me through the years.
Were you involved in pro-life work prior to the Planned Parenthood boycott?
Yes, my wife and I have worked with the Gabriel Project for 10 years. It's a parish-based outreach to women in crisis-pregnancy situations. We've taken women into our home, we helped set up a crisis-pregnancy center in Temple, we've prayed the rosary outside of abortion centers on Fridays and have done counseling on Saturdays.
How did you go about organizing the Austin boycott?
Last February, two local abortionists quit. That precipitated this attempt by Planned Parenthood to build this huge, mega-plex abortion business. There are already three abortion chambers in Austin.
Prior to the groundbreaking, on Sept. 23, we contacted the general managers at 18 different concrete suppliers. We didn't ask them if they were pro-life. We simply said, “They're going to be doing abortions, and we ask you not to participate.” Eighteen out of 18 decided not to participate. Some of them might have been pro-abortion, but they didn't want to be on the record as being pro-abortion.
We also sent letters to the chief executive officers of 750 building-related companies in Austin and San Antonio. The result was that between 150 and 200 subcontractors and vendors decided not to participate in the project. They include contractors in lumber, cement supply, foundation building, plumbers, heating and air-conditioning, windows, hardwood floors, roofing, insulation, landscaping and fencing.
Why do you think so many of the subcontractors and vendors supported the boycott?
We tapped into the latent power of the church community in Austin. We used the boycott like smelling salts to wake them up, and enough of them responded: “Not in our city!”
When the churches and church-building committees became involved, they began communicating with vendors who were working on the project. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. The vendors didn't want to be tagged as pro-abortion companies. They might build an abortion business every 10 years, but churches are going up all the time. The math is easy; they figured, Why risk it? Churches all over the country could be doing the same thing.
We're opposing Planned Parenthood's aggressive attempt to do abortions in Austin for the first time. They refer 2,000 abortions a year to other businesses in the area and now they want to do them in-house.
Planned Parenthood is an organization with a health-care wrapper, but at its core it is a social movement that promotes sexual chaos, especially among our youth. Out of that comes the violence of abortion. When they go into neighborhoods, promiscuity, unwed pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion all increase.
What's happened since your initial boycott?
On Nov. 5 the general contractor, Browning Construction Co., removed itself from the project, it said, “due to events beyond our control.” It was unable to find sub-contractors and suppliers to do the job. Planned Parenthood announced that it was going to be its own general contractor and that, within two weeks, it would be back to work on the project. It wasn't until late January that the Dallas-based contractor CD Henderson began construction again.
Unmarked vehicles showed up at the construction site. Rainbow Concrete was pressured to supply concrete for the foundation, pouring it at night, under the cover of darkness. As a result, the company's former vice president of sales resigned and took a job elsewhere. Texas Contractors and Suppliers for Life is now initiating a nationwide economic boycott of those companies listed as clients of CD Henderson.
I understand the boycott has enjoyed tremendous support even among non-Catholic churches.
Yes, a little Bible church west of town offered to stamp the 750 envelopes that we mailed to the chief executive officers. A group of home-school students took time out of their lunch break to stamp the envelopes. When I took them to the post office, some of the stamps were on sideways and upside down. The envelopes had peanut butter and jelly stains and crayon marks on them, but I figured if a group of home schoolers who love Jesus could take the time out of their lunch break to stamp envelopes going to the chief executive officers of billion-dollar construction conglomerates, anything can happen. This was a serious grass-roots effort.
What do you have planned next?
I intend to promote the idea of businesses and churches working together to stop and slow down the abortion industry by boycotting ongoing operations as well as new construction. People don't realize how easy it can be when you have the “900-pound gorilla” — the Catholic Church — weighing in to influence events on a practical level. Smart business people don't want to go up against the Catholic Church for purely business reasons.
I'm convinced the business community and the churches can shut down the abortion industry if they have the will. The politicians and judges have let us down for so many years; it is past time to move ahead without them and put an end to the nightmare of abortion.
Tim Drake writes from St. Cloud, Minnesota.