Battle over abortion rights moves to Illinois
Published Sep 30, 2007 10:19 PM
Aurora, Ill., has become the latest battleground in the struggle for abortion
rights. Located 42 miles southwest of Chicago, the city has been besieged by
anti-choice protesters since it became known that Planned Parenthood was
building a new, state-of-the-art clinic there for women’s health care.
The 22,000-square-foot clinic will provide a full range of women’s
medical services, including cancer screening, contraception and abortion.
In July, anti-choice zealots found out that the clinic was under construction
and set to open in September. They immediately began holding mass protests and
“pray-ins” at the construction site.
In a shameful act of deference to anti-choice protesters, city officials have
asked the county prosecutor to review the clinic’s permits for fraud and
other criminal violations. In August, the anti-woman forces had jammed a City
Council meeting at which Aurora officials conceded and ordered an investigation
of the permit process for the new facility.
Planned Parenthood applied for and was granted construction and other required
permits under the subsidiary name of Gemini Office Development, a completely
legal business maneuver. Aurora city leaders have knuckled under to the right
wing, which has stated that Planned Parenthood was deceitful and misleading
about the nature of the facility under construction.
Apparently, women’s right to access a full range of health-care services
is not a concern of city officials.
On Sept. 20, Federal Judge Charles Norgle denied a motion by Planned Parenthood
to lift an injunction preventing the new clinic from opening to the public.
Aurora officials had granted a temporary occupancy permit in August.
Planned Parenthood attorney Christopher Wilson told Norgle that if the new
facility had housed a foot clinic, Aurora officials would not be doing an
in-depth review. In court, Wilson charged that city officials are expressing
concern about how the medical clinic was approved only because of pressure from
“We are here because we are being denied equal protection under the
law,” Wilson said.
Cecile Richards, national president of Planned Parenthood, has called Aurora
the new “ground zero” in the struggle for reproductive rights.
“We are facing no less than the most emboldened protest by the most
radical anti-choice people I’ve ever encountered,” Richards wrote
in a recent mass e-mail asking for support for the group’s Chicago
affiliate, which oversees the Aurora clinic.
Debbie Johnson, a leader of the Detroit Action Network For Reproductive Rights,
told Workers World: “What is really needed in this situation is a mass
outpouring of pro-choice, pro-women’s rights activists. Anti-choicers are
a clear minority, as every poll has shown that a majority of people in the
United States supports women’s right to choose. A mass demonstration by
pro-choice advocates would show the city of Aurora that their tactics to
intimidate Planned Parenthood will be resisted. Every woman in that area of
Illinois should have the right to access the many services the new clinic will
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