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Planned Parenthood center not open yet
City gets more time on Planned Parenthood case
By Amy Boerema | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/18/2007 1:06 AM

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A Planned Parenthood clinic on Aurora's far east side will not open today as scheduled.

U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle on Monday delayed a decision on the controversial center's opening, asking for more information.

A new hearing is set for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago.

Clinic officials sought a federal court order allowing their facility, which will offer a variety of services, including abortions, to open on time at Oakhurst Drive and New York Street.

But city officials said they want to complete an independent review of the clinic's permit process before allowing Planned Parenthood to move forward.

Aurora aldermen launched their review of the clinic after abortion opponents claimed Planned Parenthood deceived the city by hiding its true identity in its permit applications.

The facility's temporary occupancy permit expired Monday.

After denying Aurora's effort to dismiss the clinic's request for a court order, Norgle gave the city 24 hours to respond to it. Clinic officials then will get another 24 hours to answer the city's response.

The ruling seemed to satisfy both leaders of Planned Parenthood and its biggest foe, Chicago's Pro-Life Action League.

Clinic officials are "quite pleased" the judge denied the city's dismissal request, said Steve Trombley, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area.

He said he's also encouraged the judge urged a definitive end date for the city's review. Officials will start rescheduling previously made patient appointments at the clinic, he said.

Meanwhile, abortion foes held a celebration Monday night outside the clinic.

Opponents have been at the site for the past 39 days, praying it wouldn't open today, spokesman Eric Scheidler said. "That's a great victory," he said.

The city has no plans to issue a new occupancy permit until its review is complete or "the court compels us to do so," city leaders said in a statement after the ruling.

Aurora officials haven't taken a stance on the clinic or its services, said attorney Lance Malina, representing the city in court.

That the clinic can't open as planned isn't a denial of a new permit, he said. "It's a delay, but not a denial," he said.

Clinic officials argued in court the city unfairly singled them out because they will offer constitutionally protected abortion services.

The city at first told the center it had to meet two conditions -- installing signs and partitions -- before it could open, Planned Parenthood attorney Chris Wilson said.

It was only after a firestorm of protest, he said, that the permit was changed, preventing an opening. The city imposed extra obstacles "in response to political demands," he said.

Norgle said clinic leaders are assuming the protests are the basis for the city's review. "It could be well beyond what the people said publicly," he said.

He also requested an end date for the review, which still remains unclear.

City spokeswoman Carie Anne Ergo said Monday leaders originally hoped to finish it by week's end.

After the Daily Herald revealed a potential conflict of interest with the law firm chosen to do the review, however, officials have not decided their next step, she said. Their talks continued Monday.

On Friday, the Daily Herald revealed Alderman Richard Irvin, assigned to pick an outside attorney with no prior city involvement, chose one who donated to his 2005 mayoral campaign.