Planned Parenthood's new clinic in Aurora, Ill. -- whose opening was stalled by specious protest -- was finally granted its occupancy permit Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported. As Broadsheet noted two weeks ago, city officials had delayed the clinic's opening while investigating charges by antiabortion forces that Planned Parenthood had committed fraud by identifying itself as "Gemini Development, LLC" when it applied for permits -- a shady-sounding but not uncommon practice used by businesses that want to sneak up on the competition, or that want to prevent opponents from publicizing the names and home addresses of construction workers and harassing them until they quit.
"Two independent attorneys and the Kane County state's attorney reviewed the application process and determined that no state laws or city ordinances were violated," according to the Tribune.
The clinic will provide abortions, but the bulk of its business is providing contraception and screenings for STDs and breast and cervical cancers. Said Parenthood/Chicago Area president and CEO Steve Trombley at the clinic's opening: "We know that the services we provide will do more in one day to prevent abortions than our opposition will do in a lifetime of protesting." Snap!
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards looked at the big picture. "Like many communities across the country, Aurora has a growing need for affordable health care and access to reproductive health care services. The Planned Parenthood Aurora health center brings much-needed health care services to the members of the community, regardless of their income," she said in a statement. "Still, we are concerned that the struggles the Aurora center faced in opening may be reflective of a growing battle against politics trumping health care, and increased barriers to reproductive health care access."
Without mentioning the word "abortion" (defensibly, I think), Sen. Barack Obama publicly backed the clinic's opening on Sept. 28. "I fully support Planned Parenthood's desire to open a new facility in Aurora," he said in a statement. "The proposed center will serve the growing population in a part of the state where access to a full range of reproductive health care services is lacking."
Approximately 100 opponents, lining a sidewalk, peacefully protested the clinic's opening. Eric Scheidler, spokesman for the Pro-Life Action League, has filed a further objection with the Aurora Zoning Board of Appeals.
Richards is right about the bigger picture. But at least in Aurora, here's the way I see it. Women exercise their right to receive legal health services; protesters exercise their right to protest. In that sense, everybody wins.