Nation’s Largest Abortion Clinic Opens in Illinois

( [email protected] ) Oct 04, 2007 02:25 PM EDT

The nation’s largest abortion clinic opened Tuesday amid peaceful protests by pro-life activists who had charged the group behind the facility of defrauding the city when it applied for building permits.

The Planned Parenthood clinic, which spans 22,000 square feet and cost $7.5 million, began operation in Aurora, Ill., after receiving an occupancy permit on Monday. The clinic had been forced to close for two weeks, pending an investigation by city officials to determine whether the organization had violated local laws when it used the name of its subsidiary Gemini Office Development LLC to apply for building permits.

City residents and the pro-life group Pro-Life Action League had protested Planned Parenthood’s new facility, saying they felt the organization deceived the city and should not therefore be granted any permits.

Aurora mayor Tom Weisner also admitted that Planned Parenthood "was less than forthcoming" in handling the situation but said there was “no legal basis” to deny the permit.

Kane County State Attorney John Barsanti, who reviewed the case, stated Monday that Planned Parenthood had "committed no criminal action."

Immediately following the decision, Eric Scheidler, an Aurora resident and spokesperson for Pro-Life Action League, filed an emergency appeal.

The appeal asks the city of Aurora “to revoke all permits and deny permits filed in this case," Peter Breen, a Thomas More Society lawyer who filed the appeal on behalf of Scheidler, told

Since Planned Parenthood is a not-for-profit, it required a special-use permit that would have required a public hearing and notification of nearby property owners, the appeal argues.

"I'm disappointed that Mayor Weisner betrayed his promise to the people that this would be a fully open process and that as a community we could come up with a response," Scheidler said.

On Tuesday, around 100 people gathered in a vacant field across the street in peaceful protest of the facility. The pro-life advocates prayed, read the Bible, and sang “God Bless America,” “Give Peace a Chance,” and hymns.

"We have a responsibility to protect the innocent, the unborn," said city resident David Rooch, who held a red rose and a "Stop Abortion Now,” according to Chicago’s Sun Times.

A group of around 50 Planned Parenthood employees and supporters also gathered and cheered when the center opened its doors Tuesday.

Steve Trombley, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area, maintained that they have "no regrets about how we went about this process."

He said that less than 10 percent of the center’s patients are expected to seek abortions. With Trombley’s estimate that the clinic will serve 25,000 patients a year at when at full capacity, the clinic would perform up to 2,500 abortions in a year.

Aside from abortion services, the clinic also provides testing for sexually transmitted infections and contraceptives.

Trombley claims that the medical care available at the clinic would "do more in one day to prevent abortions" than the pro-life advocates “will do in a lifetime of protesting."

But even one abortion is one too many for Aurora resident Lucie Groleske, a mother of four. She wanted to remind women there are alternatives to abortion.

"In this age when people are trying to 'go green' and recycle, recycle, recycle, yet people are throwing away the most valuable resource on this planet - a human being,” she told the Associated Press.