Last night, after more than two hours of public comment, the City Council of Naperville, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, voted 7-2 to approve the construction of the Naperville Fertility Clinic at Benton and Washington Streets on the north side of the city’s posh downtown. In March, I was part of a group of concerned citizens who spoke out against both the moral and zoning related problems related to the IVF clinic, as covered by the Chicago Sun Times. We came to bring a simple message: IVF involves the freezing and destruction of human beings in the earliest stages of life, and that is not a stain that we want to see on downtown Naperville.
IVF Doc Insists Issue Is Not Religion—Then Gives Lecture on Religion
Dr. Randy Morris was the first to speak last night. Contrary to his claims at the previous meeting that his clinic had nothing to do with religion, Dr. Morris came with a cadre of people from the inter-religious group One Naperville, including a number of people who had undergone IVF treatments with Dr. Morris or elsewhere. Nearly all of Morris’s speech was about religion. He specifically argued Catholics who uphold the Church’s teaching that destroying embryos is wrong should not be given a hearing because any moral arguments they make will be based only on “their religion”. He even went so far as to regurgitate Nancy Pelosi’s tired arguments that St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas supported abortion as if he knew Catholic theology better than the hundreds of Catholics present! At one point he forcefully stated to those who would oppose him, “Your religion is not better than our religion!”, though nobody had made the argument that it was. This obfuscation was characteristic of Morris and his supporters. While preaching “religious tolerance” he condemned those who hold the value of every human sacred as a “small and noisy group of people” whom the council should ignore.
Eric Scheidler Defends Human Life, Predicts Protest
After several speakers, mostly IVF parents speaking in favor of the facility, League Executive Director Eric Scheidler addressed the council on the inherent value of human life and the threat posed to it by IVF. See Eric’s full remarks in the video to the right. Note the particularly heated exchange with Councilwoman Judith Brodhead who called Eric back up and accused him of threatening the council (about 3 minutes in, after Eric’s formal remarks). Eric insisted that his remarks were simply a reminder of what the pro-life movement’s response to injustice looks like: peaceful protest. Eric reminded her that what would take place in the IVF facility is morally no different than what happens at the huge Planned Parenthood facility in Aurora, IL only a few miles down the road , and that the same protest movement that has been going on for nearly five years there would come to downtown Naperville as well.
IVF Proponents Wage Low-Grade War on Religion
One could say a low-grade war on freedom of religion was being waged by many of the pro-IVF speakers at Naperville City Council last night. Many of them, including Dr. Morris, made it clear that they believed that everyone opposing the clinic was doing so for “religious reasons” and that religious reasons do not deserve a hearing in the public square. The funny thing is, nobody opposing the clinic stated religious reasons. At both last’s night’s meeting and the previous one, the stated reasons for opposition were zoning discrepancies and the value of human life—something we can all value regardless of religion. This was nothing but a cheap shot and a red herring—a way of dismissing an argument that has nothing to do with the argument itself. In today’s climate of hostility against religion as seen in the controversy over the HHS Mandate and other related issues, this attitude seems to be growing—a fact that should keep us on our toes.
Local Priest Organizes Huge Grassroots Effort
Community opposition to the project was spearheaded by Fr. Thomas Milota, pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, only two blocks from the building site. Fr. Milota addressed the council last night, though he had chosen not to previously. He told the council he had intentionally refrained from speaking publicly because he didn’t want to color this as a religious fight when it wasn’t—it was a fight about the value of all human life. It was only, Fr. Milota said, because supporters of the clinic had come out with such vehement religious arguments and false dismissals of our arguments as religious, that he felt he needed to set the record straight. Though disappointed by the vote, Fr. Milota was encouraged by the strong pro-life turnout, and the opportunity that the controversy provided to educate the public—especially Catholics—on how IVF assaults the dignity of the human person. The League continues to work with Fr. Milota and other local activists on resistance to this clinic as an affront to the value of human life.
- Naperville Zoning Matter Turns into Morality Debate—NBC TV
- Naperville City Council Approves Controversial Plan for Fertility Clinic—CBS TV
- Naperville Approves Downtown Fertility Clinic—WGN TV
- City Council OKs Fertility Clinic Downtown—Chicago Sun-Times
- Naperville Approves Plan for Downtown Fertility Clinic—
- Naperville Council Approves Downtown Fertility Clinic—Daily Herald
- City Council Approves Controversial Fertility Clinic—Naperville Patch