Roger Earl beat me to it with the exciting news that three babies were saved from abortion the day after the Aurora City Council met our (very low) expectations by granting Planned Parenthood’s request to expand their parking lot. This is an especially significant number, since precisely three aldermen voted against PP’s petition. On the City Council agenda for Tuesday evening, October 27, was a petition by Planned Parenthood to expand their parking lot. The petition had been approved by the Planning and Development Committee, but then appealed by 4th Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence to the full Council. Thirty pro-lifers attended the meeting. Mayor Tom Weisner did not. Also missing were Aldermen Scheketa Hart-Burns and Juany Garza. Alderman-at-Large Bob O’Connor served as Mayor pro tempore. The Planned Parenthood item was last on the agenda. The Council voted unanimously to allow the members of the public who had requested to do so to speak on this issue for three minutes each. I was the first to be called.
Public speaks out against Planned Parenthood’s lies
You can read my full statement [PDF], but here’s the key point:
They [Planned Parenthood] claim they need these spaces to accommodate the cars of staff members who have to park at Dominick’s and Blockbuster, and then face “harassment” and “intimidation” from protestors. They have even gone so far as to claim that it’s “only a matter of time” before one of the protestors attempts to murder a member of their staff. Neither claim is true. Planned Parenthood’s parking lot is not filling up, as I and many others who comprise the continuous pro-life presence at Planned Parenthood can attest. And the fear-mongering suggestion that the Fox Valley citizens who have been out there peacefully protesting, praying and counseling women out of abortion are poised to turn violent is simply outrageous.
I went on to suggest that what Planned Parenthood is really seeking is the City Council’s blessing in the face of the zoning case pending in state court. I urged the Council not to give that blessing. Next, my assistant Matt Yonke spoke about the peaceful nature of our pro-life presence at Planned Parenthood. Matt pointed out that it would be inconsistent for the City to grant this petition, based on the claim that we pro-lifers pose a threat to PP staff, while treating us as good-faith actors in our settlement negotiations with the City, which are nearing a conclusion in federal court. Next up were Elizabeth and Roger Earl. Elizabeth emphasized that Planned Parenthood has shown neither the need for more parking nor the need for increased security while Roger gave the council pictures of a man walking through Planned Parenthood’s parking lot, proving that extra spaces would provide no extra security against an actual violent criminal. Joe Basar from St. Mary Immaculate Church in Plainfield gave testimony of his experience from being at Planned Parenthood two Saturdays a month for over two years now. He testified that the pro-life presence is peaceful and Planned Parenthood has no need for extra security. Vernon and Margo Cupps went next. Vernon urged the council to reject Planned Parenthood’s request because of the evil impact Planned Parenthood has on the community, and Margo gave her testimony of the irenic tone of interaction, even between pro-lifers and Planned Parenthood supporters at the clinic, further giving the lie to Planned Parenthood’s allegations of violence. Robert Gordon then told the council that, though he had no direct experience at the clinic, it was clear to him from what he had read that Planned Parenthood was lying to the City and should be denied on that basis alone. Sidewalk counselor Mary Vilim told the Council about the sidewalk counseling process and how, in two years of clinic witness, she had never seen the parking lot full and hoped that Planned Parenthood would not be allowed to pull another fast one on the City of Aurora. Next up was Jerry Nickels, lifetime Aurora resident, and he suggested that there was more to Planned Parenthood’s request than meets the eye. He asked the council to draw upon the thousands of hours of collective knowledge pro-lifers have about the traffic flow at Planned Parenthood. Mike Van Bree addressed the council next and said that, living within walking distance of Planned Parenthood and praying there frequently, he had never seen Planned Parenthood’s lot full and never seen the violence Planned Parenthood claims requires the extra parking. Sidewalk counselor Mary Romer told the council that this was her first time petitioning city government and she asked that they take her first-hand knowledge of the situation and reject Planned Parenthood’s proposal. Finally, sidewalk counselor Marie Sulita spoke to the counsel of the hurt and pain that women go through when they come to Planned Parenthood and how necessary the work of sidewalk counseling is. Marie also encouraged the council to conduct their own survey of the parking there to see if Planned Parenthood’s request is really necessary.
Rick Lawrence urges a prudent delay by the Council
After the end of public comments, Alderman Lawrence moved that the Council prudently delay a vote on the petition until after Judge Neal Cerne issues his ruling on the Motion to Dismiss in our zoning case, expected on November 6—especially in light of the fact that Zoning Administrator Ed Sieben had been barred from addressing the council because he might be called as a witness in that case. How can the Council vote on a matter the Zoning Administrator can’t even comment on? Lawrence also commented on the Special Use Permit issue, saying that he was never clear how the City could have so easily dismissed the objections to the use of this property as a not-for-profit health-related service, which appears to be barred by the zoning ordinance. At this, corporation counsel Alayne Weingartz spoke up, declaring that Alderman Lawrence is mistaken for thinking that adding parking spaces would trigger the need for a Special Use Permit. Lawrence explained he believes Planned Parenthood has always needed one. Alderman-at-Large Richard Irvin seconded Lawrence’s motion, but it failed 7-3. The other vote in favor of delay was cast by Stephanie Kifowit.
Alderman Leroy Keith’s ludicrous rant
Before the Council went on to vote on Planned Parenthood’s petition, 9th Ward Alderman Leroy Keith took the opportunity to berate its opponents for being unfair to Planned Parenthood. Keith insisted that he had seen PP’s parking lot full on several occasions. He didn’t speculate whether the pro-lifers who said they’ve never seen it are simply mistaken or lying outright. Keith then went on the say that if a dentist were trying to add parking nobody would have a problem with it; we pro-lifers are singling out Planned Parenthood because of the kind of services the provide. Of course, a dentist would not likely have concealed the nature of his business form the public in the first place, or tried to get the city to approve a final plan revision without offering any evidence beyond false and defamatory claims about opponents of dentistry. What Keith is missing is that its the very nature of Planned Parenthood’s business—killing unborn human beings—that led them to lie, again and again, to the City of Aurora. But then Keith launched into an attack on the notion that Planned Parenthood requires a Special Use Permit. Those permits, he said, are required of businesses that negatively impact the community—like drug rehabilitation centers. “I wouldn’t want to live near a drug rehab,” he said. His implication is that he wouldn’t mind living near an abortuary. But just ask the people of the Oakhurst subdivision, Mr. Keith, if they like living near an abortuary. Just ask them whether their neighborhood has been negatively impacted by living near Planned Parenthood.
Council votes 7-3 to approve PP’s parking petition
After Keith’s rant, the Council went on to approve Planned Parenthood’s petition 7-3. Aldermen Lawrence and Irvin were joined by 5th Ward Alderman Whitey Peters in voting against it. There was a moment when I thought the Council might go along with Lawrence’s suggestion that a vote be delayed, but once they rejected that idea, it was clear they would be approving Planned Parenthood’s petition. I don’t know if our city officials are simply indifferent to the voice of the people, the integrity of our laws and the respect due to the truth itself, or if they’re simply terrified of being sued by Planned Parenthood. But once again, they’ve let us down.
Three babies saved the day after the Council’s vote
We may have been let down by the City Council, but the day following their disappointing approval of Planned Parenthood’s parking scheme, we received a powerful sign of hope. Sidewalk counselor Margo Cupps—one of those who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting—reports that three babies were saved from abortion Wednesday morning. This is the most saves we’ve ever had in one day—one for each of the Alderman who voted against Planned Parenthood, it seems. Please consider thanking Aldermen Lawrence (firstname.lastname@example.org), Irvin (email@example.com) and Peters (firstname.lastname@example.org) for their votes against Planned Parenthood. They did the right thing.