The recent decision of the Taneytown City Council to approve a proposed community health center to serve low-income residents was a welcome change of heart.
Just two months ago, the town council had vetoed the idea, rejecting a $100,000 federal block grant for the project because some members feared that abortion counseling would be offered at the center.
To dispel that notion, and gain approval, the non-profit Human Services Program Inc. pledged not to offer family planning services to clients there. The agency will work with government departments to provide a range of community health services, including immunizations, family counseling, prenatal checkups and parenting classes. The Carroll County Department of Social Services will assist clients in applying for emergency rental aid, welfare benefits and child support.
The 3-to-1 vote for the community health center project came as a result of the switch by one Taneytown councilman, James McCarron, to favor it and the absence of an opponent of the original measure, Henry C. Heine Jr.
But this month's decision was also a result of improved communication by Carroll County officials, who had formerly held open the possibility of eventually adding a family planning clinic at the center if the demand developed. That was taken by some to mean abortion counseling, which killed the center proposal in the city council.
By taking family planning out of the mix, the proposal sailed through and the county can now apply for the grant to renovate the vacant building on Main Street that will house the health center.
With nearly half the town's population at or below the federally-defined poverty line, this type of facility is sorely needed in Taneytown. To obtain these services now, local residents must travel 10 miles to Westminster. Many of these families don't have cars, however, and there is no public transportation.
The result is that those most in need of community health services in Taneytown don't get it. Council members agreed that the need for the health center has existed for some time. It is unfortunate the plan could not have proceeded earlier, but the council at least revisited its initial vote fairly quickly. Even if family planning counseling will not be offered at the center, it will be available elsewhere. Meanwhile, other basic health and human needs of Taneytown will be met.