Joseph Scheidler (BBC News)
Planned Parenthood, trying to pressure Aurora, Ill., officials to allow a new superstore abortion clinic to open quickly even though it was deceptive in its permit applications, has launched an attack on area pro-lifers by citing their “violent tendencies,” even though the claims at issue were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court three times, including a rare unanimous decision just last year.
The attack came from Steve Trombley, president of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area, who sent a three-page letter to all 12 Aurora aldermen and Mayor Tom Weisner following accusations the abortion business defrauded city staff about the medical building, which was scheduled to open Sept. 18.
However, since the site is zoned for medical offices under a temporary occupancy permit under the name of Gemini Health Center, Weisner said the city will do an investigation on the legality of the permitting process.
“We’re not going to allow operations to begin until we’ve accomplished the investigation,” the mayor said. He said it needs to be determined whether the application for the occupancy permit was fatally flawed because of the deception.
Planned Parenthood repeatedly listed the name of the owner as Gemini during the permitting and construction process, not revealing its actual plans for the building until a construction worker started questioning the multiple surgical rooms and bulletproof glass.
Community leaders immediately expressed outrage that a huge abortion industry presence was being installed in Aurora with no input from the city or its residents, triggering the plans for the investigation.
Then in an attempt to apply pressure to the city, Trombley wrote his letter.
“I want to assure you that Planned Parenthood was open and truthful throughout the extensive permitting process and continues to welcome the cooperation of the City of Aurora,” the letter said. That’s even though Trombley told the Chicago Tribune the group left its name off the application because it did not want people to know its plans.
Then he went on to condemn members of the “Pro-Life Action League who have been opposing our new facility.” He wrote: “They are headquartered in Aurora and have a well-documented history of advocating violence against both persons and property as well as other related criminal activity.”
The letter went on: “We think you will understand the urgency of our concerns when you consider the following facts about the Pro-Life Action League and its leader, Joe Scheidler.”
Trombley’s letter then listed the following:
- “Scheidler (along with a handful of other anti-abortion leaders) formed PLAN – the Pro Life Action Network. Scheidler called PLAN the ‘pro-life mafia’ and proclaimed ‘a year of pain and fear’ for anyone seeking or providing abortion.
- “After a six-week trial in 1998, a jury in Chicago unanimously found that the Pro-Life Action League Network orchestrated 121 crimes involving acts of threats of force or violence against women’s health facilities that offered abortion. These crimes proven at trial included beating a post-operative ovarian surgery patient over the head with a sign, knocking her unconscious and causing her to bleed from the sutures in her abdomen; seizing a clinic administrator by the throat, choking and bruising her; and slamming a clinic staff member and volunteer against the stairs (sending them to a hospital and causing permanent injuries) and destroying medications and equipment. Joe Scheidler personally praised the individuals who carried out some of these misdeeds, even taking credit for them….”
“Oh my, if that doesn’t scream libel lawsuit, I don’t know what does,” Stanek wrote on her blog. “Here, Trombley unmistakably accused Scheidler and PLAL of commandeering violence.”
Her reaction stemmed from the fact that the allegations cited by Trombley in his letter were allegations in a precedent-setting lawsuit brought by the National Organization for Women on behalf of all abortion providers in the U.S. including Planned Parenthood against pro-life protesters including Scheidler, alleging they engaged in a criminal conspiracy to halt the abortion industry.
But the case, before the U.S. Supreme Court three times, was repeatedly and resoundingly overturned, the last time on a rare unanimous decision. That essentially nullified lower court conclusions that the pro-life activists violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
WND reported in 2006 that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled for the third time in favor of pro-life activists who were sued by NOW over their aggressive demonstrations at abortion clinics.
In its 8-0 ruling then, the high court said federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used to ban the protests.
In 2003, WND reported NOW had lost its second round in the Supreme Court in a decisive 8-1 ruling. The feminist group charged that protests organized by Scheidler’s Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League amounted to extortion under RICO.
A lawyer who has worked on the case, Tom Brejcha, of Chicago’s Thomas More Society and Pro-Life Law Center, said at the time the dismissal ruling was huge.
“The plaintiffs designed this case as a huge dragnet and they cast it far and wide as if to encompass the entire pro-life activist movement in America,” he noted. “The law of ‘res judicata’ or ‘claim preclusion’ varies from state to state, but all pro-life activists who face lawsuits by their local abortion providers may have a defense based on [this] final judgment.
“The judgment bars ‘all claims that might have been brought in this case’ on behalf of all class member abortion clinics. This is not just federal RICO or antitrust claims, but also state and local trespass or harassment claims of all sorts,” he said. “As NOW and the other plaintiffs have met a final defeat, the tables are turned against them.”
Brejcha was not slow to act when the Planned Parenthood letter surfaced, either. Within hours,
he had generated a reply:
“We are writing you, on behalf of our clients, to demand a prompt and public retraction of false, libelous and malicious statements in your letter, dated September 4, 2007, to the mayor and aldermen of the City of Aurora (‘letter’), and also in recent newspaper ads,” Brejcha wrote.
“Specifically, you falsely stated in your letter that those ‘opposing [your] new facility [who] are headquartered in Aurora … have a well-documented history of advocating violence against both persons and property as well as other related criminal activity’ (letter, p. 1). You go on to assert, also falsely, that ‘the zealots who have been opposing our new facility have a well-documented history of violence and criminal activity’ (id., p. 3),” the letter continued.
“Your many assertions about the Pro-Life Action League (‘the League’) and Joseph Scheidler, its director, are red herrings as they have nothing to do with the Aurora protests. But they too are false and misleading. This you well know, as your Planned Parenthood clinics were part of NOW v. Scheidler, a national class action suit, and you are bound by its final result in favor of the League and Scheidler. The verdict your letter cites is a legal nullity, as it was reversed by the United States Supreme Court, not just once but twice. In 2003, the verdict was overturned, 8-1. Then in 2006, the Justices again ruled for the League and Scheidler 8-0, ‘unanimously’ – as you describe the verdict (letter, p. 1) while omitting any mention of its reversal. Final judgment was just entered for the League and Scheidler, in compliance with the mandate of the U.S. Supreme Court, in federal district court here in Chicago.”
“Should you not retract your false and libelous assertions against Eric Scheidler, or the Aurora protesters, or Fox Valley Families promptly by follow up letter, or by newspaper advertisement, or by public testimony at Aurora’s next council meeting next Tuesday evening, we shall seek legal redress,” he wrote.
“Moreover, we shall press Aurora officials to seek redress for your false and misleading statements during the permit process when, as you were quoted in the ‘Chicago Tribune,’ you took pains to keep your actual plans ‘secret’ for as long as possible. As former Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis insisted, ‘the best disinfectant is sunlight.’ Those who try to confuse, deceive or mislead public officials must be held accountable,” he said.
“Trombley … unmistakably knows NOW lost that case – with an unprecedented three U.S. Supreme Court rulings against it,” noted Stanek. “He has to know because Planned Parenthood was part of that case, since it was brought on behalf of all U.S. abortion clinics.”
While pro-life activists are planning 40 days of protests and prayer at the new facility, Planned Parenthood, besides the letter to the city, is distributing T-shirts and bumper stickers to those who support abortion.
But Pro-Life Action League spokesman Eric Scheidler said Planned Parenthood should have disclosed its plans from the start.
“They got caught in a lie and now they’re trying to make up for it,” Scheidler said. “But it’s too little too late.”
The city’s temporary occupancy permit expires Sept. 17 and prohibits the clinic from actually opening for business.
As WND reported earlier, city officials earlier raised questions about the deception. “There’s always legal ramifications,” Aurora, Ill., Alderman Richard Irvin told the Chicago Tribune.
Part of application papers from a front company for Planned Parenthood, indicating the occupant of its new building was ‘unknown at this time’
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said the deception probably was the result of two issues: the fact that a Planned Parenthood clinic’s construction in Austin, Texas, earlier was delayed for months when local contractors refused to work on the project, and the general atmosphere that accompanies abortion businesses.
“What do you get when you get an abortion facility? Not only do you get dead children, the blight and underworld that comes along with that, but you also get thousands upon thousands of pro-lifers who adorn the streets with pictures of aborted children,” he told WND. “I don’t think either is good for a community.”
The tactic, however, is not isolated to the Illinois location. Newman said the same scenario developed with Denver, where Planned Parenthood recently purchased a building without announcing its presence.
“The bottom line is nobody wants an abortion facility in their community. It’s kind of like a toxic waste dump,” he said.
Cheryl Sullenger, also of Operation Rescue, said community residents have legitimate concerns when a Planned Parenthood facility announces it is moving in.
“They’re concerned about their children, what their children are going to be taught as far as sex education. They don’t want their daughters getting abortions without their knowledge, and in some states Planned Parenthood is famous for promoting that. When Planned Parenthood comes to town, the community is going to have something to say about it,” she said.
Unless, of course, the community doesn’t know.
In this case, the project was in development throughout all of 2006 and into 2007. But on city permit applications, Gemini posed as the owner, never revealing its ownership by Planned Parenthood on construction applications dated March 23, 2006; July 27, 2006; Nov. 22, 2006; and Dec. 4, 2006. Then in March 22, 2007, in an application for signage permission, Gemini stated the tenant was “UNKNOWN AT THIS TIME.”