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Clinic opening today
By Amy Boerema | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/2/2007 12:32 AM | Updated: 10/2/2007 6:09 AM

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Aurora's controversial Planned Parenthood clinic will open its doors at 10 a.m. today.

The center was issued an occupancy permit Monday afternoon, after city leaders released results of three separate reviews that found no grounds for preventing an opening.

While the clinic may have misrepresented itself in its permit applications, that's not enough to deny an occupancy permit, attorneys Richard Martens and Phillip Luetkehans said in separate reports.

Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti also weighed in, clearing the clinic of any criminal wrongdoing.

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

Clinic officials will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. today. They are rescheduling appointments with patients who had planned on getting earlier treatment.

The 22,000-square-foot building, at Oakhurst Drive and New York Street, originally was scheduled to open Sept. 18. But then it became locked in a legal battle over the validity of its permits.

The center will offer birth control, pregnancy and pap tests, counseling, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment -- and abortions.

That service has turned the clinic's opening into a national issue, with abortion rights supporters and opponents weighing in from around the country.

The city has received thousands of calls, letters and requests from people on both sides, Mayor Tom Weisner said at a news conference Monday.

Weisner initiated an outside review after opponents claimed Planned Parenthood deceived the city by applying for permits as Gemini Development, a subsidiary.

Clinic officials said they complied with all required public disclosures but initially kept the project quiet so protesters wouldn't harass their workers.

Despite Planned Parenthood being "less than forthcoming in some ways," Weisner said, the city's review shows no legal basis on which to deny an opening.

"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, which is the clinic's biggest foe, disagreed.

"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 to prevent an opening, alleging the clinic, as a nonprofit health-related center, needed to obtain a special-use permit.

Scheidler wasn't the only one upset the council didn't appear to have a say in the issue.

"This mayor never consulted with us on his decisions," Alderman Rick Lawrence said. "The only avenue we have now is to call into question the review process. The council needs to step up here."

Dozens of abortion opponents surrounded Scheidler at city hall after the mayor's news conference, holding signs that read "Stop Abortion Now."

Karen Johnson said the group will continue to hold on-site prayer vigils. "We'll never go away, not until there's an end to abortion," the St. Charles woman said.

The protesters won't impact patients, Trombley said. The building's entrance is off a private road, limiting access to opponents.

"What activities they engage in beyond (vigils), we don't know," he said. "But we're confident we'll deal with everything that comes our way."

Supporter Gandi Falcon of Aurora cheered the city's decision. "It's kind of sad we had to go through all of this," he said.

Clinic opponents file libel suit