Past Event

Transparency & Public Trust: The Planned Parenthood Clinic Controversy in Aurora

This week’s topic uses a recent opening of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Aurora, IL as a springboard for discussion on the notions of transparency and public trust. In the company of a dozen police officers, a hundred protesters, and several supporters, Planned Parenthood opened the doors to a new clinic on October 2. The clinic will provide an array of reproductive health-care services for women including pap smears, mammograms, and abortions. The clinic has been the center of controversy since this summer when it was learned Planned Parenthood applied for building permits under the name of a subsidiary, Gemini Office Development LLC.

Protesters from all over the country descended on the Chicago suburb and have kept an ongoing vigil. After experiencing pressure from groups such as the Pro-Life Action League, the city of Aurora delayed the clinic’s opening while it investigated whether Planned Parenthood committed fraud. The organization said it used a subsidiary’s name in order to avoid alerting abortion opponents and to protect the construction of the facility.

Planned Parenthood’s approach was influenced by events in 2003, when protesters successfully utilized the tactic of boycotting contractors involved in building a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. Companies were bombarded with angry phone calls after their phone numbers were listed on organizers websites. After several weeks, the main contractor conceded to pressure and pulled out of the project which led to the shut down of construction. Eventually, Planned Parenthood finished building the clinic using out of state businesses.

Similar protests have occurred in communities when businesses such as Wal-Mart have tried to move in. In other instances, homeless shelters and nuclear power plants have experienced resistance by residents.

Did Planned Parenthood violate public trust by using a subsidiary to shield it during construction? Should a community have the power to decide if a clinic that performs abortions, a homeless shelter, or nuclear reactor will be built in their neighborhood? If the authority rests with the community, should itbe able to have access to the information needed to make the decisions? If the federal government rules a service or action is legal, what right doesa community have to restrict access?

Suggested Readings:

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.