City Council Hears Our Stories

City Council Meeting 8-28I don’t have the words to express my appreciation and gratitude for all the wonderful pro-lifers who stood up before the City Council last night, and on into this morning, telling their personal stories about why Planned Parenthood is bad for Aurora.

Many times during the nearly six hours of statements from pro-lifers, I was nearly overcome not only by the moving stories people had to tell—of loss and sorrow and anguish, of hope and promise and exhortation—but by the tremendous faithfulness and courage before my eyes.

I also have to give a lot of credit to the Mayor and the Council. They listened to 100 pro-life citizens, the great majority residents of Aurora, for nearly six hours! Only two people rose to speak in defense of Planned Parenthood—and to ask the Council to remove our little white crosses.

Mayor Weisner promised us the investigation he launched on Monday will be truly open and broad, with consequences for Planned Parenthood if fraud is discovered. I’m certain our presence yesterday was instrumental, and I know we moved a step forward yesterday

That said, I remain doubtful that we can expect the City to really do the right thing here. Because even as we were speaking, one after another, before the Council, the police—three squad cars, no less—came out to the Vigil and demanded that the prayer warriors there get rid of the deck box and cooler, or face arrest.

On what charge I cannot imagine. Normally this would be a matter of writing a simple citation. I find it very difficult to reconcile the capricious behavior of the police—no doubt operating under instructions from above—and the assurances we were offered by the Mayor that our concerns will be fully addressed.

Meanwhile, we can be proud of what we accomplished in the City Council last night. If nothing else, we gave our representatives a lot to think about. They all learned more about abortion and its horrors last night then in all the years of their lives up until our statements began at 7:45.

Unfortunately, I do not have the time to give the thorough synopsis I would like to, but Joe’s Lab and Jill Stanek have written up some reflections, and Jill has posted a photo montage.

Long story short, the City Council at least now realizes that allowing Planned Parenthood into Aurora was a colossal blunder that threatens to undo the City’s recent revitalization, and we now have statements on record from the Mayor that we can hold him to.

Finally, I’d like to offer the text of my statement before the City Council. By good fortune, I came second in the lineup, after the eloquent and inspiring Fr. Heinz of Holy Angels parish. My actual remarks had to be abridged to fit within the three-minute limit; the following is my original, complete statement:

Remarks to the City Council, August 28, 2007

My thanks to the City Council for allowing me to stand here and speak on the issue of Planned Parenthood’s presence in our community.

My name is Eric Scheidler. I live at 839 Garfield Avenue in Aurora with my wife April and our eight children. We live in the 4th Ward and are represented in the City Council by Alderman Rick Lawrence. My family and I are parishioners at St. George Catholic Church in the 1st Ward. We are very involved in the parish and I am a cantor there.

My family and I moved to Aurora two years ago. We had six children at that time, so my daughters Mary and Sarah are “native born” Aurorans. We moved here because we considered Aurora to be a family-friendly city, a wholesome place to raise our kids.

We found Aurora to be much more affordable than the suburbs near Chicago, and much quieter. As an avid cyclist, I welcomed the opportunity to reach peaceful country roads only a five-minute ride from my door. Another important factor for us was the significant role that the many churches of Aurora clearly play in this community. Aurora is a church-going town.

But I am not just a husband and father and a church-going Catholic. I am also the Communications Director of the Pro-Life Action League, an organization founded in 1980 by my father, Joe Scheidler, to save mothers and their babies from abortion through peaceful direct action. The League is headquartered in Chicago, and I work out of an office in Aurora.

So when I learned that what is now being billed as the largest abortion facility in the nation would be opening up in my community, I took not only a personal interest but a professional one as well. I knew that I had to do something about it. And so it has been my privilege to facilitate the efforts of the Aurora community to address what we consider a grave threat to our families and our neighborhoods.

I am also the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the City of Aurora. The City, which today in the Beacon News admitted to being inexperienced dealing with large-scale protests, has in my view failed to respect the First Amendment rights of the pro-lifers who have been praying and protesting outside the Planned Parenthood building since August 9.

But I’m not here to address the particulars of the case, but to point out that this federal lawsuit is typical of the kind of disruption that Planned Parenthood brings to a community. Contrary to what Planned Parenthood Chicago Area CEO Steve Trombley told reporters Saturday after more than 1,200 area citizens gathered for a massive pro-life rally at the site, we will not “go back to our normal lives” in a few weeks.

If Planned Parenthood opens up on September 18 as scheduled, we will continue to maintain a pro-life presence there to offer a real choice to women, the choice for life, and to continue to stand against Planned Parenthood’s dangerous influence upon our children, which I’m sure you will hear a great deal about this evening. We’re not going away. You need to know that from the beginning.

Because in contrast to what we’ve seen from Planned Parenthood, we are committed to acting openly and honestly. We are committed to the truth. We will not deceive you. We will not pretend to be someone that we are not.

Planned Parenthood has not treated the City with that kind of honesty, the kind of honesty that the City deserves and which I, as an Aurora citizen and voter, expect from any organization that seeks to do business with the City and her citizens.

Specifically, I would like to call attention to the November 16, 2006 meeting of the Planning and Development Committee, Agenda Item 18:

Alderman Elmore: It[the Gemini building]‘s a nice buffer between them and the retail center, and these usually are pretty quiet because they usually function in the daytime and that makes in nice. I’d be interested to know who your client is, when you can release that.

Gentleman [unnamed representative of Gemini]: Ok.

We now know—as I believe will be amply demonstrated to the City Council this evening—that there never was a “client”; that Gemini Development Corporation was never anything more than a front company for Planned Parenthood to set up in Aurora without any public scrutiny— without any input from the community that Planned Parenthood claims to be here to serve.

Yet throughout the approval process, not just before the Planning and Development Committee but in their permit applications and other documents, “Gemini” consistently stated that their “tenant” was unknown. But in a story in the Chicago Tribune July 27 entitled, “Clinic built under wraps,” we learned that Gemini is nothing but a subsidiary of Planned Parenthood.

And so I would like to return to the deception worked upon Alderman Elmore. As any responsible Alderman would do, she sat on the Planning and Development Committee November 16, 2006 looking out for the interests of her constituents. She knew that the residents of Oakhurst, like all of us, value quiet and peace in their neighborhood.

She welcomed the information that the property at Oakhurst and New York would be a quiet medical office rather than, for example, a busy strip mall.

But that information was false. Representatives of Gemini Development Corporation sat there that day knowing full well who their so-called “client” was. They knew that they were bringing not peace and quiet to Oakhurst and Aurora, but a lightning rod of controversy.

One can hardly imagine a business less quiet and peaceful, less likely to enhance a neighborhood, than an abortion business. The very fact that Planned Parenthood hid behind the Gemini mask is proof that they knew full well that their massive abortion facility would meet with substantial public resistance.

Planned Parenthood Chicago Area CEO Steve Trombley admitted as much in the Chicago Tribune article I mentioned when he said , “Frankly, I’m surprised we were able to keep it a secret for so long.”

Trombley went on to say, “We didn’t want anything to interfere with the opening.” It is most unfortunate that Steve Trombley and Planned Parenthood consider openness and honesty and input from the community to be “interference” with their business.

And so I am here today to call upon the City Council to vote in favor of a resolution calling for a truly independent and open investigation of the approval process surrounding the property at 3051 E. New York Street, in order to determine whether, as I believe, Planned Parenthood is guilty of fraud.

During the course of this independent investigation, I ask that Planned Parenthood not be allowed to open their doors.

Finally, I request that the findings of such an investigation be made public, and if fraud is indeed discovered, Planned Parenthood’s approvals be revoked.

Thank you.

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