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Planned Parenthood to open Tuesday
By Amy Boerema | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/1/2007 3:56 PM | Updated: 10/1/2007 6:19 PM

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A Planned Parenthood clinic on Aurora's far east side will open its doors at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The controversial center was issued an occupancy permit today, just after city leaders released results of two separate reviews that found no grounds for preventing an opening.

A third review, conducted by Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti, found the clinic did nothing illegal in obtaining its permits.

"This is an important victory for the women in Aurora and surrounding communities who need to get the health care they want and deserve," said Steve Trombley, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area.

The 22,000-square-foot facility, at Oakhurst Drive and New York Street, will offer birth control, pregnancy and pap tests, counseling, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, and abortion services, among others.

Clinic officials, who also will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday, say they are rescheduling appointments with patients who had planned to come in earlier.

The building originally was scheduled to open in mid-September but became locked in a legal battle over the validity of its permits.

For weeks, the Aurora clinic has been at the center of a heated debate that has gained national attention. Both abortion rights supporters and opponents have weighed in from across the country.

The city has received thousands of calls, letters and requests from people on both sides of the issue, Mayor Tom Weisner said during a press conference today.

Though Planned Parenthood may have misrepresented itself in its permit applications, two independent attorneys said they found no evidence of wrongdoing that would justify keeping the clinic from opening, city leaders said.

The clinic applied as Gemini Development, a subsidiary. Center officials say they complied with all required public disclosures but initially keep the project quiet so abortion protesters wouldn't harass their workers.

"All a government can do is try to treat people fairly, which I believe we have," Weisner said.

Eric Scheidler, spokesman for Chicago's Pro-Life Action League, disagreed.

"Today, the people of Aurora were betrayed by Mayor Tom Weisner and Corporation Counsel Alayne Weingartz, who have taken it upon themselves to declare that Planned Parenthood may open without allowing the city council to discuss these matters," he said.

He said he plans to file suit Tuesday to prevent an opening, alleging the clinic had to obtain a special use permit. His group will discuss their next step, he said.

Scheidler was surrounded by his supporters, who held signs that read, "Stop Abortion Now."

Karen Johnson of St. Charles said abortion opponents aren't giving up and they'll continue to hold prayer vigils.

"We'll never go away," she said, "not until there's an end to abortion."

Meanwhile, Gandi Falcon of Aurora, sporting a pink "I support Planned Parenthood" T-shirt, cheered the city's decision. "It's kind of sad we had to go through all of this," he said.

Bonnie Grabenhofer, president of the Illinois National Organization for Women, called it a major victory for women.

"We are pleased the city decided to ... make reproductive health care services available to women," she said.