"This is a conservative community -- but teens are very sexually active. Anyone who is in contact with the school population recognizes the need." - Wendy Fegenhols, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
From "Abortion Clinic Built Under the Radar" by ..."Frankly, I'm surprised we were able to keep it a secret for so long," said Steve Trombley, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area, carefully avoiding a freshly painted wall as he offered a tour of the facility. "We didn't want anything to interfere with the opening ... and, at this point, I don't anticipate anything will stop that from happening."
The $7.5 million facility at 240 N. Oakhurst Drive, in DuPage County, adjacent to a Dominick's, is scheduled to open Sept. 18. In the planning stages since 2002, it is Planned Parenthood's first full-service site in the Chicago area in 20 years and the only one to perform abortions outside of a Near North Side Chicago location. Private donors contributed $5 million toward its construction.
It would be the only clinic performing abortions in Aurora; another clinic closed last year after its doctor retired.
As of Thursday, not a single protester had appeared on the scene. But even at this late date, anti-abortion activists vow to create some hurdles to abortion in Aurora.
"It is not going to be possible to stop construction," conceded Ann Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League. "It's probably more a matter of damage control at this point."
Scheidler said the league is bringing to town the executive director of the anti-abortion group STOPP, which seeks to shutter Planned Parenthood, to a strategy meeting scheduled for Aug. 16.
Avoiding builder boycotts
That the clinic was kept hush-hush for so long was no accident. Planned Parenthood adopted the strategy after a 2004 boycott by contractors stalled work for two months on a clinic in Austin, Texas. The boycott, organized by a concrete contractor, pressured subcontractors with being blacklisted from future employment. The contractor ended up quitting the job, and Planned Parenthood acted as its own general contractor to finish the facility.
Still, the tactic was heralded as a new economic tool in the arsenal of abortion foes.
As in Austin, word of the Aurora clinic was leaked to anti-abortion forces by a contractor, Scheidler said.
"He knew there was a recovery room. It was obviously a surgery center of some sort. I guess the bullet-proof glass and all the security, the security cameras, made him concerned," she said.
Aurora Councilman Chris Beykirch, who represents that part of the city, said he learned that Planned Parenthood was building the clinic only last week. The property was zoned for a medical/office building, however, so the city could not have blocked construction -- not that it should have tried, he said. He said he was disappointed that the agency felt it was necessary to be secretive.
The project appears to be full-steam ahead. A staff of 24 -- answering "help wanted" ads for an unnamed clinic -- is being hired. The sleek cabinetry and faux wood floors are in place. The airy examining and recovery rooms are almost complete. It has a large conference room where the employees can meet with civic groups.
"We want to introduce ourselves to the community ... rather than be defined by our adversaries," Trombley said.
Kendall County is the nation's second-fastest-growing county, increasing by 62 percent from April 2000 to July 2006, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released last month. "This is a medically underserved area," Trombley said.
The full-service Chicago clinic is 35 miles away, a significant hurdle for Aurora's low-income and uninsured population.
"This is a conservative community -- but teens are very sexually active," said Wendy Fegenhols, who recently retired from the DuPage County Health Department and serves on the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health. "Anyone who is in contact with the school population recognizes the need."
Teens need something all right - but it's not contraceptives and an abortion clinic. They need adults to encourage them towards honor and purity.
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