Note: This entry originally appeared on the Families Against Planned Parenthood blog on 11/27/07.
Tonight for the first time the Aurora City Council will vote on an agenda item of concern to the pro-life community: a non-binding resolution proposed by Alderman Chris Beykirch which calls upon the State of Illinois to do what it takes to enforce the 1995 Parental Notice Act.
As of 3:30 p.m., over 70 people are signed up to speak on this agenda item. I will begin live-blogging the City Council meeting at 6:00 p.m., with help from my assistant Matt.
6:00 p.m. The aldermen are filing in and taking their seats. Corporation Counsel Alayne Weingartz is in position, ready to interrupt every community speaker at the two-minute-and-thirty-second mark.
We’re waiting for item GO07.222, Resolution Calling for Action on the Parental Notification Act of 1995. It’s near the end of Unfinished Business, so it will be some time before we hear public comment on the issue.
6:10 p.m. We have pledged allegance to the flag and prayed that God will inspire this meeting and protect our community. Mayor Weisner is now making a presentation to the Boyz II Men Fraternity, an outreach to young black and Latino men. Inspiring stuff.
6:20 p.m. The Council has approved the items on the Consent Agenda and moved on to Unfinished Business. GO07.222 is item 14 out of 17. I’m guessing it will be about twenty minutes before the get to it, unless there is serious discussion of item 5 on the red light cameras system.
6:25 p.m. The first four items of Unfinished Business were approved together, and now Weingartz informs the Council that contract negotiations with Redflex, the red light camera guys, are still underway. The Council votes to punt the item for two weeks.
6:30 p.m. Action proceedes. I’m curious to see if the Council will attempt to impose a time limit on public comment. Past time limits were imposed on the basis of so many having signed up to speak on non-agenda items, but now we’re here for an item on the agenda. We’ve seen the rules change again and again, so it’s anybody’s guess what they’ll do.
However, one good sign is that the police sergeant at the door did not appear to be ticking off names from a list. Perhaps the complaints raised about Open Meetings Act violations are hitting home.
6:50 p.m. We’re on item 10. It won’t be long now. I see Terry Hunt here, a pro-life Republican running for State Representative in the 50th District, as well as Jim Oberweis, whose running for Congress in the 14th Congressional District. I’m sure State Senator Chris Lauzen, who is also running in that race, would be here too if he could be; he’s busy fighting the good fight down in Springfield.
6:55 p.m. There’s some debate—that is to say, Alderman Lawrence is asking questions—about an ordinance to establish customer service standards for cable and video providers. At one point, Lawrence tries to clarify a point when the Mayor’s speaking and he (the Mayor) says, "You had your chance to speak." Those two don’t appear to be great friends.
Our item should have been next, but the Mayor requested that it be put off until after the BGI items (the remaining ones on the list), which some people have apparently come to speak on.
7:00 p.m. We’re on. The Mayor has moved to allow members of the public to speak. Lawrence pipes up that he has an amendment to the Resolution, but the Mayor says we should hear from the public first. Resolution passes. No move to set a time limit.
7:05 p.m. I speculated last time that John Thorne must have the City Clerk’s office on speed dial. Here he is, first again, linking the Parental Notice Resolution (hereafter, “PNR”) to both common sense and natural law. To own the truth, I have the City Clerk on speed dial myself, but John always beats me to the punch (I’m #6 on the list).
Matt’s going to jump in here and make some of the updates. He’ll conclude his posts with "[Matt]".
Joe Basar speaks on behalf of neighboring communities, being from Plainfield. He says Planned Parenthood’s activities here will effect not only Aurorans and their daughters, but also surrounding communities and their daughters. [Matt]
Nancy Klenemeyer reminds us that without Parental Notice laws, sexual predators have a much greater chance of covering up their crimes. She also points out that due to Illinois’s current unenforceable Parental Notice law, Illinois has become an abortion dumping ground for minor girls from surrounding states. [Matt]
7:10 p.m. Next Wanda Geist reflects on Thanksgiving and what she’s thankful for. Family, life, freedom, and reproductive freedoms in particular top the list. She’s thankful for religious freedom, and, more to the point, the freedom to disagree with our government and petition them for what we believe is the right thing. Finally, she’s thankful for the City Council and calls on them to pass the Parental Notice Resolution. [Matt]
Eric Scheidler thanks Alderman Chris Beykirch for bringing this resolution forth. Eric tells us next about the involved procedure his daughter had to go through to receive a brace to treat her scoliosis. The doctor pointed out the difficulty of treating teens, who will often want to abandon the demanding brace and opt for dangerous back surgery. Teens need parental guidance because they simply don’t see the big picture. Eric tells us that even pro-choice neighbors support this resolution because they simply care about their daughters. He finally tells us that a vote for this resolution is not a vote against abortion but a vote for parents’ rights and children’s health and safety. [Matt]
7:15 p.m. Laetitia Benberry draws on her experience as nurse to talk about the increased health risks of abortion for minor girls. She is followed by her husband Herschel, who says Illinois has to get in line with surrounding states and enforce parental notification.
7:20 p.m. It’s a wheelchair parade here! Herschel Benberry, who is wheelchair bound, is followed by Diane Picciuoulo, who calls up on the Council to get together and vote in favor of this resolution.
Now Bonnie Grabenhofer steps up to repeat some of the statistics she has before. She says Parental Notification is dangerous for girls and declares that the PNR is “deliberately misleading.” She somehow claims that nationwide parental notification is recognized as bad policy (in fact, over 30 states have such laws). Bonnie gets rather heated as her three minutes proceeds. She concludes—and curiously she makes this point more emphatically than any—by insisting that she does live in Aurora—that’s some other “Bonnie Grabenhofer” who lives in Elmhurst. Wow.
7:30 p.m. Bruce Sutcliffe reminds the Council that each of them will have to make an account to God of our lives. He tells them about his experience as a Marine defending those who can’t defend themselves. He says that he buried a three-month-old daughter, so he knows what it’s like to lose a child. He talks about what it’s like to stand there outside Planned parenthood and see these young girls going into that facility for abortions their parents know nothing about.
By the way, last time there were few enough speakers that I was able to write about each one. But tonight there’s at least 70 on the docket. I’ll keep up as best I can, but I just won’t be able to comment on everyone.
7:35 p.m. Linda Dudley tells about a friend who runs an ambulance service, who told her that his ambulances are often called out to abortion clinics to race girls to the hospital when abortion goes wrong. Some of them bleed to death.
7:40 p.m. Matt Yonke first asks the Council to let him know if they know anyone looking for a condo in Wheaton; he needs to sell his so he can move to Aurora. Matt talks about the inviolability of the family, and points out that the point of parental notification is not to take away anyone’s rights, but to protect the rights of individuals who are still learning how to exercise those rights.
7:45 p.m. Janice Kalita talks about her experience teaching at Rosary High School, where she taught the girls that no matter what their fears, parents will almost always rise to the challenge when they have to deal with something like pregnancy. She tells the story of a cynical girl who got pregnant and whose parents did just that.
Next is Heidi Brooker, another adolescent educator, who talks about the effect that "calling a parent" has on kids; it’s the final step in the hierarchy of consequences for misbehavior. Nobody would dream of not telling a parent about Jimmy’s bad spelling test; only reproductive health gets this exception. And the reason? Planned Parenthood’s abortion profiteering.
I’ll have to get Heidi’s remarks in full again, to post here. She’s always brilliant.
7:50 p.m. We’ve got a run of educators and nurses here. Impressive stuff. Karen Seever talks about the scientifically demonstrated neurological differences between adolescent and adult brains, and how this is manifest in decision making and judgment.
Ann Canning talks about the irony of receiving a Ward 9 e-mail about a couple of dogs killed in the Ward, calling for information on the crime, while the killing of unborn babies is tolerated.
7:55 p.m. Now Jane Fonner talks about how her neighbors, whom she’s been getting to sign petitions on this issue, are in favor of parental notification regardless of where they stand on abortion. Then she talks about her husband’s news that Alayne Weingartz put out a memo at Provena Mercy asking doctors to come and speak on this issue.
Wow. I’d love to know more about that! What’s Alayne up to?
I’m going to hand things off to Matt for a bit.
Greg Guest tells us some details about the Parental Notice Law now held up in court. He tells us of the details of how the state is dragging its feet on getting this law enforced. He points out the judicial safeguards and that this law has everything needed to be a good constitutional law. The problem isn’t the law, the problem is that pro-choicers will not stand idly by while any restriction exists on abortion. He wisely says that the best place for a pregnant minor is in the arms of her parents. [Matt]
8:00 p.m. John Zahn points out that the judicial bypass feature answers the pro-choice objections and protects girls from sexual predator, and reminds us of the importance of electing good officials in Springfield who make these very laws. [Matt]
Congressional candidate Jim Oberweis tells us of his history living and teaching in Aurora. He speaks as a father and grandfather of the decision-making capabilities of young teens. Minors cannot enter into contracts and the like, why should they be able to procure an abortion? He speaks of the importance of communication, and encourages the council to do everything they can to support Parental Notification. [Matt]
Marie Salita talks about the the protection from abuse that the judicial bypass option provides. If abuse is brought to light in front of a judge, that revelation could be the key to her finally getting help. She reminds us that often girls have unwarranted fears about their parents’ reactions. [Matt]
8:10 p.m. Karen Nickels cites studies showing the psychological harm done to teens who go through abortions. She tells us that they often become pregnant again very quickly. She also brings the physical consequences to the attention of the council. She joins the chorus of calls for the council to pass the resolution, because it is simply the rightthing. [Matt]
Gerry Nickels tries to clear up confusion on what parental notice actually is. Some have mistakenly thought that parental notice increases governmental meddling in our lives when, in fact, it will greatly reduce it. [Matt]
Whitey Peters and Linda Ellmore are missing. We hope they’ll make it back in time to vote in favor of the PNR! [Matt]
Joan Solmes is up next. She cites Planned Parenthood’s notorious history of racism, which can be a problem here in Aurora. She talks about the Fourth Commandment (in the Catholic numbering, “Honor your father and mother”), and gets a laugh with her remark that her parents pricks her conscience from beyond the grave. [Matt]
8:20 p.m. Several more heart-felt presentations in favor or parental notice. We’re at 30-1 in favor of the PNR. And now, another nurse, Jackie Hindi, shares her experience as both parent and health care provider in defense of the need for parents to be involved with children’s health care. [Eric]
Whitey Peters is back. Elmore is still AWOL. Curious. She’s the one I was most interested to see vote on this.
8:25 p.m. Maria Salinas gets up to speak, but before she begins the Mayor informs us they’ll be a recess after her. Maria jokes that the description of teenagers sounds a little like she is now, in her thirties. She reports on some calls she made today to some businesses in Aurora. She learned she couldn’t bring her niece to get her ears pierced, but she could bring her for an abortion.
And now a recess.
At this point my broadband card quit working. I continued to take notes on the Council meeting offline, while working to restore my connection. Now it’s back. Here are my notes, as I resume live commentary.
8:45 p.m. We return from the recess and Alderman Beykirch comments that it might be good for the public to decline offering further comment and go ahead and let the Council vote before they lose a quorum. The public applaud. But Mayor Weisner gives the two speakers who have already been called a chance to speak first.
Terry Hunt (running for State Rep. in the 50th District) offers to decline his three minutes if it would cause any Alderman to leave—laughs. Then Elizabeth Carlos talks about getting pregnant before her marriage, and how her husband considered taking her to Planned Parenthood. In the end, her parents and his were supportive and helpful.
Now the mayor asks the public if they are willing to forego further comment and allow the Council to take a vote.
8:50 p.m. Now Alderman Lawrence proposes an amendment to ask the State to revise the current (though unenforced law) to include any and all medical procedures. The people applaud, but no alderman seconds, so the amendment does not move forward.
Now Bob O’Connor tells us that of all the contentious issues he’s seen over the years, this is the record breaker. He reviews some of the comments the Council has heard over the weeks. He says that he has gone through more agony over this than any issue before Council before.
But now O’Connor tells us that he has an amendment for the resolution to make the language more precise as to what the Council can actually accomplish.
8:55 p.m. O’Connor continues, saying he’s worried if this vote would be considered a litmus test; perhaps tomorrow the Council should address the War on Iraq, immigration, etc.
And now he talks about what it really means to be a Contrarian, which in the past was his role on the Council, a role now assumed by others (he means Lawrence, of course).
The gist of O’Connor’s remarks—the subtext—is that other issues deserve the kind of attention we’ve paid to this issue.
9:00 p.m. O’Connor reads in his amended language, urging the Attorney General, the General Assembly and the courts to work aggressively to take the necessary steps to get parental notification enforced.
Now Alderman Richard Irvin responds to O’Connor’s proposed language, countering that we can demand of the legislature to do what’s right. However, he seems willing to go along with Alderman O’Connor’s revisions.
9:05 p.m. But now Irvin continues and is saying he won’t support the amendment. I’m not sure where he was going before.
And now Lawrence pipes in. His mic, which wasn’t working before, now works. “I though I wore it out,” he says, and we laugh. Lawrence agrees with Irvin that we can demand that the legislature act.
And then the Mayor pipes in to support O’Connor’s resolution as employing language that would be more palatable to a federal judge, which is where this thing is stalled. Now they vote on the amendment.
All vote in favor except Irvin and Beykirch. The Council now moves on to the resolution itself.
9:10 p.m. Now Beykirch speaks at some length about his support for this resolution, his appreciation for O’Connor’s intentions despite voting against his amendment, and his gratification that the people have spoken so eloquently on this. He notes that tonight’s remarks were more pointed and eloquent than in the previous six meetings, which I think is true too.
9:15 p.m. Lawrence speaks. He thanks Irvin and Beykirch for working with him on this. He says that the State ought to be protecting kids from organizations like Planned Parenthood that will market to kids and discourage them from talking to their parents. But if the State of Illinois won’t, then the City has to act. He’s preparing the way for the the Parental Notice Ordinance that’s coming down the line.
Lawrence ends by saying that though the disagree, rightly, on many things, he and his fellow Aldermen should be able to agree that the parent child relationship is
9:20 p.m. Alderman Kifowit now says that all these hours of hearing public comment have been very illuminating for her. She’s commenting on how the resolution has changed since being initially presented to the Government Operations Committee. Kifowit is defending the G.O. Committee’s holding back on the resolution initially, since it led to a better resolution.
9:25 p.m. The vote: 11 yes, zero no. Elmore absent (can this be coincidence?).
Now Roger Earl is telling the Council about his experience with the police on November 17, when he was out at Planned Parenthood, walking up and down Oakhurst praying and taking care of his baby while his wife, Elizabeth, was counseling at the facility. The police, as reported here on this blog and in the press, ordered Roger to vacate to the other side of the road or be arrested.
At thirty seconds to go, Weingartz interrupts him. Roger says it might take more time than that, please bear with him. Then the Mayor says, “You’re no better or worse than anyone else, you have thirty seconds.” Roger continues.
Let me say for the record that in fact, Roger Earl is better than darn near anyone I know. I wish the Mayor would have had the courage to hear him out here in the Council. Something tells me his story will get a full hearing one day, and justice will be done.
9:30 p.m. Council adjourns.