Protests shut clinic on opening day

Aurora, Ill., Planned Parenthood forced to turn away patients while its lawyers fight "political" opposition in court.


Lynn Harris
September 19, 2007 8:38PM (UTC)

Tuesday was the long-awaited, hard-fought opening day of the new state-of-the-art Planned Parenthood clinic in Aurora, Ill. And it passed with the clinic doors shut. As it turned out, anti-climactically, Planned Parenthood spent another day arguing in federal court rather than providing health services to women. According to a spokesperson Broadsheet spoke with this morning, 13 women with appointments had to be turned away.

In case you haven't been following this one, long story short: The still-shuttered clinic has been the target of large-scale protests and intense attacks, legal and otherwise, since earlier this summer when its presence came to light. The organization had submitted permit applications as Gemini Development LLC, a Planned Parenthood subsidiary. This is a standard (though not universal) practice as a means of, ahem, preventing protest -- just as other less controversial businesses do (perfectly legally) when, say, a new Burger King doesn't want to tip off the McDonald's on the same block. But now, long after everything was out in the open and approved, the city is trying to determine whether Planned Parenthood came in under "false pretenses." ("We believe that the City of Aurora has no legal basis for blocking the opening of the facility and that its revocation of a temporary operating permit is motivated solely by political opposition to the constitutionally protected right to abortion services," president and CEO of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area Steve Trombley said in a statement. Speaking of false pretenses.)

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"Did we hope to avoid disruptive and potentially violent protests that might delay the opening of a facility greatly needed in DuPage and Kane counties? You bet we did," Trombley wrote in a letter to Aurora's mayor and aldermen earlier this month. "It should be obvious by now why we chose that course."

Recall that in 2003, when word got out in Austin about a new Planned Parenthood clinic, opponents publicized the phone numbers of and unleashed a torrent of harassment of every company involved in the construction, "many of them mom and pop businesses with a lot to lose," as MSNBC noted. Abortion opponents, energized by the attacks in Aurora, are reportedly considering similar tactics in Denver.

According to CEO Trombley, by the way, abortions will make up about 10 percent of the services provided at the Aurora clinic. (Most of the others will help! Prevent! Abortion! Sheesh.)

Planned Parenthood will be back in court tomorrow. One thing at issue: whether the clinic may open for business -- legal business, in which women exercise a constitutional right -- pending legal craziness. Meanwhile, visit Planned Parenthood Aurora for more background and to find out all the ways you can help.


Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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