Hundreds join protest at Planned Parenthood
A little girl knelt in the grass, head bowed, fingers clasped, joyfully singing "Amazing Grace" to herself Saturday morning.
About 20 feet in front of her stood the Planned Parenthood sign attached to an Aurora building awaiting its fate.
Behind the little girl was a gathering legion of abortion opponents. They stood stacked in groups of 100-person battalions along Oakhurst Drive. Organizers had hoped for at least 700 participants forming seven battalions, but the crowd swelled to at least 800, with more trickling in, by the time the march began.
For about an hour the protesters marched in a wide circle around the residential and commercial block that hosts the Planned Parenthood facility.
Protesters carried white flags with red crosses and sang hymns. Neither abortion rights supporters nor general spectators lined up to watch or oppose the protest along the route.
The idea was to reenact the biblical Battle of Jericho for modern times. The Bible story relates how Joshua and the Israelites felled the walls of Canaan through God's intervention by marching around the city once a day for seven days.
Saturday's march marked the seventh straight day of protests at the Planned Parenthood facility.
At the end of the march, a group of church leaders pumped up the protesters with speeches praising their efforts and denouncing the would-be activities of "the abortion fortress of Aurora."
"Planned Parenthood is disruptive to life and family values that are at the very core of our faith," said the Rev. Jeffrey B. Moore of Aurora's First Presbyterian Church. "They say this is a health facility. Health for whom? The babies die, and the women carry the wounds for life."
The Rev. Martin Heinz from Aurora's Holy Angels Catholic Church followed by blasting religious leaders who've spoken in support of Planned Parenthood in recent weeks.
"I am sick and tired of hearing what is wrong is good," Heinz said. "We don't have choice to do whatever we want, but to do what we ought to do."
The protests ended with more songs and prayers. When the crowd left, the walls of the Planned Parenthood facility still stood.
Steve Trombley, chief executive of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area, said in a phone interview that he had no problem with people who disagree with abortion. He said he does disagree with the protesters' decision to make the Aurora clinic the site for a debate. The clinic offers other women's health services besides abortion.
City and clinic officials will meet in court Monday to determine if the facility can open Tuesday as scheduled.
Trombley said patients have no cause to worry about any ongoing protests.
"The clinic entrance is off of private property, so they won't be able to harass our patients," he said. "Whatever the protesters decide to do after that is up to them."
The Rev. Tom Milota of Naperville's Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church said if the facility opens despite the protests and prayers, faithful Christians should be assured it doesn't mean that's what God wants to happen.
"We live in a broken world," Milota said. "Just the fact that abortion exists is a testament to that. We'll continue to pray."