Aurora, Illinois has become the battleground for reproductive rights.
About a week ago, I attended an informal meeting at Planned Parenthood Aurora to learn more about the brewing controversy over a women's health facility. About 50 people attended the meeting and about 25 anti-choice activists paraded along the streets.
I had the opportunity to speak with Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area CEO, Steve Trombley. Steve let me know how important the fight in Aurora is.
"This has now become the ground zero battle in the nations' abortion battle. We need everyone's help in the fight to open the health center because facilities like these are where reproductive choice becomes a reality for women and families." ~ Steve Trombley
While this is a local issue over an occupancy permit, we should all recognize that what happens in Aurora happens to all of us. Please read below the fold to find out how you can help.
Timeline of events:
In 2006, Planned Parenthood obtained a parcel of land at 3051 New York St. in Aurora and built a $7.5 million, 22,000 square foot medical office facility. The facility had already started scheduling appointments to provide healthcare services to the region. The next closest facility is 35 miles away.
July 2007 - newspapers and other media began reporting that the new medical facility would provide abortion services to women in the western suburban area.
August 16, 2007 - Aurora issued a Temporary Occupancy Permit, allowing Planned Parenthood to open for business. The Occupancy Permit clearly stated that there were two minor conditions to obtaining its Permanent Occupancy Permit: install additional exit signs at certain points inside the facility and install glass at the service counters.
August 26, 2007 - Over 1,000 anti-abortion protestors held a demonstration outside of the new facility.
** This photo was taken while I was at the event - not the 1000-person rally.
August 28, 2007 - At the next meeting of the Aurora City Council meeting, more than 100 of the same protesters arrived to object to the facility.
August 31, 2007 - Aurora issued a letter to Gemini Office Development LLC stating that the City of Aurora had begun a full review of the process surrounding the development of the facility. The letter also modified the Temporary Occupancy Permit stating that the facility could not open until the city has given further written approval to do so.
Sept. 15, 2007 - Over 1,000 area residents and out-of-area anti-choice activists conducted a "Jericho march" around the facility; generating more controversy.
Sept. 18, 2007 - The facility did not open because the City of Aurora denied a permanent occupancy permit. Instead, local pro-choice activists mingled in the parking lot of the new healthcare facility.
Sept. 20, 2007 - A U.S. district court judge denied a request from Planned Parenthood of the Chicago Area to allow a new health center in Aurora, IL, to open its doors.
According to Planned Parenthoods website, the fight is just beginning.
The situation in Aurora may be the most challenging we've faced in a long time, but Planned Parenthood has been fighting this battle for more than 90 years, and we're not going to stop now. We'll be back in court as soon as possible to present additional facts, and we WILL open this clinic.
What you can do to join the fight?
Please call Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and ask him to sign the occupancy permit. The Mayor of Aurora has the authority to sign the permit. It is best to reach the mayor during normal business hours at 630.264.4636. You might also want to write an e-mail - email@example.com.
Planned Parenthood needs people to attend the Aurora City Council meeting on September 25, 2007 at 5:00 p.m. Please call 630.844.3619 to reserve your spot to speak-up on behalf of choice.
Aurora City Hall
44 E. Downer Place
Aurora, IL 60506
Planned Parenthood needs contributions. I don't have to tell you that the opposition will be well-funded and they will need financial resources if they are expected to win.
Thanks for taking action to help Planned Parenthood in Aurora.
Democrat for United States Congress
Illinois' 14th District