Interesting little controversy.
Planned Parenthood wanted to open a women’s health clinic in Aurora, Illinois. I’m not using "women’s health clinic" as a euphemism for "abortion clinic" — it really is a women’s health clinic. Among the services they were to provide: gynceological exams, cancer screening, HIV testing, pap smears, etc. And oh yes, surgical and medicinal abortions.
Now PP knows from experience what happens whenever such a clinic is introduced in to a community. Picketing of the construction site, harrassment and threats to the owners of the construction company, and so on.
So this time, PP did something different. When seeking permits and city approval, they hid behind the name of a subsidiary company, Gemini Office Development, and were vague when asked along the way about the identity of prospective tenants for the $7.5 million facility. They didn’t lie or commit fraud — the land is zoned for (among other things) medical clinics. The only thing they did was just not make it widely known — to Aurora city officials — that they were intending to build a perfectly legal women’s health clinic that would (among other things) perform abortions.
The subterfuge almost worked, but the local paper revealed the plans. And Aurora city officials, having already signed off on the plans for the 22,000 square-foot clinic, felt the pressure from anti-choice advocates. They ordered an independent review, ostensibly to examine the legality of the tactics Planned Parenthood employed to fly under the radar.
Truth be told, there wasn’t much to review — only a handful of documents. But the "review" dragged on and on, for reasons unknown. It became quite obvious that Aurora officials used the excuse of this ongoing investigation to prevent the clinic from opening on schedule. Eventually, Planned Parenthood had to go to court seeking an order allowing them open the clinic. That motion is being argued today, and being liveblogged here.
While the focus is supposedly on Planned Parenthood’s alleged "fraud", what is clearly at issue is abortion. As one lawyer argued this morning, "We wouldn’t be here if this was a foot care clinic." So true.
While it is clear that PP attempted to hide their identity, it is also clear the deceptions were an effort by Planned Parenthood to be sure the law is followed, and not thwarted. They wanted to be sure their plans and proposals were considered as though they came from an organization engaged in lawful activity. Which, in fact, they were.
From what I’ve seen and read, it’s hard to find actual "fraud" here (it is common for business to work under the name of subsidiaries, and this is not in fact "fraud"). But there may be facts that I am not aware of.
The irony here is that Planned Parenthood offers such as contraceptive counseling, pregnancy testing, adoption referrals and disease screening. Collectively, these services does more to lower the overall number of abortions (by providing the birth control that blocks unwanted pregnancies) and to save lives than all of the protests, prayer vigils and campaigns of harassment by its enemies put together.
UPDATE: According to the liveblogger, the judge is denying PP’s motion, "saying that there is a dearth of evidence showing discrimination and that there was not enough time for a reasonable investigation." Not a total loss for PP, just a loss for today….