One of the nation's largest abortion clinics opened in October after weathering months of protests, a court battle, and three legal reviews.
At issue was Planned Parenthood's "low-visibility" tactic of applying for a building permit in Aurora, Illinois, under the name of a subsidiary, Gemini Office Development LLC. The City of Aurora investigated whether the misrepresentation constituted fraud, but determined that no state or local laws had been broken in opening the $7.5 million, 22,000-square-foot facility.
Planned Parenthood said its strategy of filing under another name was necessary to keep contractors safe from abortion protesters. Meanwhile, pro-life groups in Denver and Portland say they are already using lessons gleaned from Aurora.
"We've learned the extreme necessity of pro-life people keeping a close eye on local government," said Eric Scheidler, spokesman for Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League. "Now that we know this is a Planned Parenthood strategy, we will certainly be watching them."
Abortion opponents have appealed the Aurora clinic's occupancy permit, and they plan to continue prayer vigils and protests at city council meetings. "We will keep pressure on Planned Parenthood and the City of Aurora so they never forget that an abortion clinic is not welcome here," said Scheidler.
But further court challenges are unlikely to succeed, said Carl Esbeck, a University of Missouri law professor. "I am sympathetic to the pro-life community here, but the law seems to go against them," Esbeck said. "Pro-lifers can [instead] use this as a way to educate the public about Planned Parenthood's deceptive way of operating."
News about the opening of the clinic and the protests in Aurora includes:
Aurora clinic ...1
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