November 16, 2007
Prolife Protest Movement is Born Again
Planned Parenthood's stealth strategy in Aurora backfires. Nov. 17 demonstrations may provoke arrests.
Planned Parenthood may have the legal right to operate its new clinic in Aurora, Illinois, but the blowback from the prolife community has been staggering.
In fact, the emerging story looks to me like the rebirth of the prolife protest.
Here's the latest announcement, which arrived in my inbox about an hour ago, from the Prolife Action League:
Aurora Police Chief Threatens Arrests as Pro-Life Citizens Gear Up for Protest at Planned Parenthood. In Heated Discussion Chief Powell Tells Scheidler, "I Don't Care What the City's Attorneys Say, I Will Do What I Want"
Aurora, IL - On Saturday, November 17 from 9:00-11:00 AM, a protest will take place at the nation's largest Planned Parenthood facility located at 3051 E. New York Street in Aurora, Illinois. The monthly protests, organized by the Pro-Life Action League, have seen as many as 1,200 pro-life advocates gathering at one time. Rhetoric regarding the protest has heated up this week. Despite allegations of First Amendment violations against the peaceful protestors and a pending lawsuit against the city, Aurora Police Chief William Powell has gone on the offensive, even going so far as to accuse the protestors of being "threatening" when they claim their free speech rights. However, many of the peaceful demonstrators believe it is the Chief who is doing the threatening after calling a paddy wagon to be sent out to last month's protest. At Tuesday's City Council meeting Powell stated, "I hope [demonstrators] will go along with what we ask them to do. If not, I will guarantee there will be arrests made."
Eric Scheidler, Communications Director for the Pro-Life Action League and an Aurora resident, along with other protestors, had a heated discussion with Chief Powell at the Planned Parenthood site this morning.
"Chief Powell was visibly irate as we tried to discuss the plans for the gathering tomorrow," states Scheidler. "When I brought up that the city's outside counsel had given us directives as to the operation of the protest, he said he didn't care about what the attorney said, he would do what he wanted to do. At times, he was so angry that another officer intervened to calm him down."
After months of protests, Scheidler claims the city has continued to give unclear directives as to ordinances relating to the protests. With hundreds of citizens coming out to the Planned Parenthood site on a regular basis, many are questioning why the city seems to be constantly changing the rules.
"We have sought nothing but peace with the city and cooperation with the Aurora Police," states Scheidler. "We have continued to ask for clear, written directives as to laws for conducting these protests, but they have given none. What they have done is show up and intimidate hundreds of Aurora citizens with an armored paddy wagon, constant video surveillance and the city's lawyer in tow."
The opening of Planned Parenthood, scheduled for mid-September, was delayed for two and a half weeks while investigations were conducted into the seemingly deceptive process in which Planned Parenthood received their occupancy and building permits. Amid much controversy, the facility opened on October 2nd. Various investigations regarding zoning issues are still ongoing.
Scheidler vows that the monthly demonstrations will continue, "Regardless of the threats and tactics the city uses to try to keep their citizen's voices from being heard, we will be here praying and marching until no more innocent human lives are slaughtered in our town."
Once arrests begin to occur, prolife protests begin to take on a life of their own. Historically, some prolife protests have stretched for month after month. This situation in Aurora may become the largest stand-off between prolifers and the other side since the Terri Schiavo case.