Dr. Randy Morris is typically welcomed with open arms, especially by couples attempting to conceive a child.
So the licensed physician, specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, was taken aback by recent opposition to his plans to consolidate his practice in downtown Naperville.
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Morris intends to build a fertility clinic at the northwest corner of Benton Avenue and Washington Street and provide services that include insemination, in vitro fertilization and unblocking fallopian tubes.
He wants to build a center that will include one floor for offices and have a small surgery center and IVF laboratory on other floors.
Morris was issued a state certificate of need for the facility in October, but he now needs city approval for parking and sign variances. Naperville's planning and zoning commission unanimously approved the plan last month and the city's planning staff told councilmen they also recommend approval.
But Morris said he is disturbed by the negative reaction his proposal has received from both the public and city officials.
At a recent city council meeting, more than a dozen residents spoke against the plan, including some who said Morris would take advantage of female college students eager to sell their eggs for cash. Others objected to the procedures being performed near schools and churches.
"Knowingly or not, this is an industry that preys on the financial vulnerability of my female peers," said North Central College senior Mary Kizior.
Mary Beth and Mike Brummond told the council they have been trying to conceive for 29 months, but shun in vitro fertilization because they believe it takes away a child's dignity by making them a "manufactured commodity."
"I'm a doctor who helps people get pregnant so that type of reception is not something I am used to," Morris said. "That was a very difficult night. I need time to step back and catch my breath before I decide what my next step will be. That was scary. I think those people have the mistaken belief I provide abortions, but it's exactly the opposite."
Morris currently operates a small office in Naperville and his main offices in Chicago. He said he would like to consolidate his practice into one facility in Naperville, where his family and a number of his patients live.
"I do a lot of driving. My patients have to do a lot of driving, too, so my plan is to consolidate to one location in Naperville, where I've already been performing these services for a decade," he said. "It's offensive to me that people who don't know anything about me will talk about my motivation for wanting to move downtown. It couldn't be that I live nearby and my patients live nearby and my children go to school down the street?"
Council members tabled the discussion until their April 3 meeting to give members more time to learn about the proposed clinic.