Revolution #104, October 14, 2007

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Embattled Planned Parenthood Clinic Opens in Suburban Chicago


On October 2, a Planned Parenthood clinic opened in the Chicago suburb of Aurora. The clinic provides birth control, STD testing and treatment (Aurora is spread between two counties that have some of Illinois’ highest rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia), cancer screening, and abortions.

Anti-abortion forces launched a vicious attack against the Planned Parenthood clinic before it opened. They packed city council meetings and staged rallies of hundreds of people outside the clinic site. Reactionary anti-choice forces nationwide mobilized against the clinic, egged on by people like Sean Hannity of Fox “News.” In this atmosphere, city officials refused to allow the clinic to open, claiming there were problems with Planned Parenthood’s permit application.

For weeks, as the opening was delayed, and the “right-to-lifers” dominated the airwaves, influential forces in the pro-choice movement opposed demonstrations in support of the clinic, counseling relying on the legal system instead. This demobilized and confused a lot of people who support abortion rights, who needed to be mobilized to fight to open the clinic. In this atmosphere, there was important discussion among activists, as well as broad distribution of a statement issued by the Chicago Branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party in late September that said, in part:

“The idea that we will prevail by simply sitting quietly and letting this be worked out in the courts, hoping not to ‘make waves’ or ‘offend anyone’ is a dangerous illusion that will only lead to us losing more and more ground.  Let’s not be naïve about the anti-abortion movement: they are not going to stop at banning abortion, which would be terrible enough. They have a nightmare agenda for women and society: a return to openly patriarchal values, and a return to the traditional order of things where a woman’s role is to be under the thumb of her husband and the producer of his children, where women are openly the property of men to be controlled by their husbands.”

On September 25, Planned Parenthood called for a demonstration in front of the Aurora City Council. Two to three hundred protesters, including a lot of high school and college students, rallied, wearing pink t-shirts and chanting in Spanish and English. The battle was beginning to get more two-sided.

On September 30, author Sara Paretsky wrote a piece in the Chicago Tribune that got the reality behind anti-abortion demagoguery of comparing abortion to the Holocaust: “My grandmother watched her father die when an anti-Jewish mob broke into their small home and shot him as he lay in bed with his wife. The mob was jubilant and exuberant at his death; their neighborhood priest in Vilnius, Lithuania, led the crowd through the streets chanting a Te Deum to show their thanks to the Lord at the death of someone they considered a nonbeliever. Most members of that crowd called themselves Christians. I think of them when I look at the mob in Aurora that is trying to keep the Planned Parenthood health center there from opening.”

Case in point: Now that the Aurora clinic is open, Joe Scheidler, director of the Pro-Life Action League, has bragged that he is photographing the license plate numbers of clinic employees’ cars in Aurora. These stalkers are openly doing this from the parking lot of a nearby Safeway/Dominick’s grocery store. His son, Eric Scheidler, has already filed a libel lawsuit against Planned Parenthood for a paid ad in which they simply repeated the ugly behavior of Pro-Life Action League activists, including beating patients and clinic administrators and destroying medications and equipment.

After the clinic opened on October 2, Eric Scheidler filed for a temporary restraining order against the clinic, arguing that it still has not met all the requirements for its permit and that it should have been required to hold public hearings before it began building. City councilmen in Aurora have been threatening to pass a rule requiring teenaged women to notify their parents before getting an abortion. Anti-abortion activists have threatened to continue the fight against the clinic. And the permit granted to Planned Parenthood by the city is only temporary.

At the same time, the battle to open the Aurora Planned Parenthood did succeed in forcing the authorities to open the clinic. That will have a profound impact on the lives of thousands of women! And there were potentially important glimpses of the potential for a movement to defend the right to abortion, against the enslavement of women as “baby machines.” Much more of that is urgently needed.

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