Posted by Matt Yonke on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Fr. Thomas Milota leads pro-lifers in prayer at Planned Parenthood [Photo by Matt Yonke]
As the sun set on Monday, October 1, pro-lifers gathered outside Planned Parenthood in Aurora, Illinois to mark the fifth anniversary of the day the "Abortion Fortress" opened its doors.
Candles were lit and the faithful came together to mourn the babies and mothers hurt by abortion as well as to thank God for his ongoing kindness to the pro-life movement in our struggle against this facility.
Aurora Megacenter Opened Under Cloud of Deception
In 2007, Planned Parenthood brought the facility to Aurora under a cloud of secrecy and outright deceit. They brought in a front company to buy the property and oversee construction and they outright lied to the Aurora City Council saying it would be a general, multi-tenant medical facility and that they didn't know who their tenants would be.
When word got out less than two months before they were slated to open, an enormous wave of pro-life opposition to the facility rose up led by Pro-Life Action League executive director Eric Scheidler, who happens to live in Aurora. Thousands rallied and prayed round the clock, attended city council meetings and marched around the neighborhood in protest until October 2 when, against his own word and against the law, Mayor Tom Weisner allowed the facility to open.
But that wasn't the end of the story. For the last five years, residents of Aurora and the surrounding cities have continued their effort of prayer, protest and outreach at the clinic. Monday's vigil was as much a celebration of the goodness God has brought out of the opening of Planned Parenthood as it was a mournful vigil for the lives lost and damaged there.
Byzantine Chant and Reflections from Clergy and Activists
Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society speaks at the vigil. [Photo by Matt Yonke]
The vigil opened with a Byzantine chant from myself, Eric and Greg Wiesner, a stalwart young pro-lifer from our church. The words of Psalm 121 reminded us all of who was truly in charge during difficult time: "I will lift up my eyes to heaven, from whence my help shall come. My help is from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. Alleluia!"
After the song, the main program began which consisted of eleven people who have been active in fighting Planned Parenthood in Aurora shared some reflections and prayers.
Prayer warrior and church captain for 1st Presbyterian Church Mary Faye Vasen spoke of how Planned Parenthood's coming to Aurora woke up her pro-life convictions. She had been pro-life in her views her whole life, but not until 2007 did she actually do anything about it.
League National Director Joe Scheidler then shared his thoughts on our goals as pro-lifers, followed by Fr. Andy Davey of St. Mary Church in Plano, Illinois who spoke of the spiritual dimensions of the pro-life fight.
Sidewalk counselor John Vasen spoke of his experiences at the clinic and attorney Peter Breen shared about the beginnings of the zoning lawsuit against Planned Parenthood that's still being fought in the courts five years later.
Pastor Randy Schoof of Warehouse Church shared some stories 2007 and a prayer followed by sidewalk counselor Karen Nickels and myself.
Kelly Gorsky of Waterleaf Women's Center and Catholic churches liason Mary Vilim were next and the program was closed by Fr. Thomas Milota of Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Naperville, Illinois.
Such a wide variety of speakers provided ample reflection on the good things that had arisen out of the fight against Planned Parenthood. Unity among diverse churches, new activists and counselors arising from the ranks of inactive pew-sitters, mothers and babies saved from abortion, and a general strengthening of the pro-life community in the area were just a few of the things that we praised God for that evening.
Memorial for the Lives Lost at Planned Parenthood
The vigil closed with a special memorial for all the babies who have died at the hands of Planned Parenthood's abortionists over the last five years.
As the crowd sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic, a song long close to the hearts of the activist community in Aurora, everyone present brought a red carnation across the street to the edge of Planned Parenthood's property as a peaceful symbol of the loss the whole community suffers whenever a child is aborted.
The story of Planned Parenthood Aurora is very close to my heart because the controversy around their opening in 2007 was the reason I got into full time pro-life work with the League. As a fitting memorial to the babies and as a marker of a milestone in my own life, the candlelight vigil was a wonderful, moving success.
- Abortion foes hold vigil to mark Planned Parenthood clinic's 5th anniversary—Chicago Tribune
- Illinois is the nation's latest abortion battleground—NPR Station WBEZ