Aurora Planned Parenthood facility target of anti-abortion groups
As Planned Parenthood struggles to explain its practice of acquiring the tissues of aborted fetuses for medical research, several Illinois-based anti-abortion groups are targeting an Aurora clinic as part of a larger effort to strip the organization of its state and federal funding.
Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler, an Aurora resident, said a planned Aug. 22 protest outside the suburban facility is part of a nationwide effort by abortion opponents that is aimed at "keeping the fires burning on this issue."
"We saw the need," Scheidler said, "to spread the news to the larger community and in particular to the places where these facilities are."
He described the Aurora facility as "their big flagship center for the region" which "gets cars from all over the Midwest and draws in from a very wide area."
Meanwhile, Emily Zender, director of Illinois Right to Life, said her organization distributed letters on Tuesday to all 177 members of the Illinois General Assembly, urging them to eliminate funds to be set aside from Planned Parenthood Illinois in ongoing state budget negotiations.
Zender said the group is also asking Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to investigate Planned Parenthood's Illinois' practices.
Earlier this month, a California-based organization released two stealthily recorded videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they provide aborted fetal organs for research. In one of them, Illinois was specifically cited as a prime place to conduct the practice.
The videos have put the group and its Democratic allies on the defensive.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told ABC news on Sunday that the group has broken no laws and added that groups are "using these very highly edited videos, sensationalized videos, to try to impugn and smear the name of Planned Parenthood."
The practice of collecting the tissues, supporters of the group say, is used to conduct research on various diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntingtons diseases, as well as cancer and spinal cord malformations.
Planned Parenthood Illinois Vice President Pam Sutherland told the Daily Herald that the organization's Illinois chapter was "not ready to do an interview. We just can't comment right now."
The Aurora facility opened in 2007 and provides numerous family planning services such as pregnancy testing and birth control, as well as testing for sexually transmitted diseases. In its eight years in operation, the site has been the target of numerous protests, Sutherland said.