Staff at a pro-life pregnancy center in Zion, Ill., found out from a Chicago Tribune report this month Planned Parenthood was opening a new abortion facility in the nearby Chicago suburb of Waukegan. Until then, the pro-lifers had no idea about plans for the new center just 10 minutes away.
“It’s very disappointing … that they put one of these facilities right next door,” said Doug Carlson, president of the board of the Family Resource Center in Zion.
The news blindsided others, too. “I think most of Waukegan found out by the newspaper on the day it was presented,” said the resource center’s director, Mary King.
Planned Parenthood clandestinely planned and built another abortion facility in Illinois less than a year ago. The state passed a law in spring 2019 removing of all protections for unborn children, making the state an abortion destination in the Midwest. Planned Parenthood has capitalized on the change with a stealth expansion plan.
The abortion giant bought a former bank building in Waukegan through the Chicago Title Land Trust Company in 2019, according to county records. “No one would raise an eyebrow about them buying property,” said Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League. His team submitted an open records request to the city of Waukegan and the county tax assessor to get further details about the building. Officials requested an extension on fulfilling the request. Online county records also list a company called Winthrop Lake LLC that receives the tax bills. The records make no mention of Planned Parenthood.
“That’s the pattern that Planned Parenthood has exhibited in Illinois when they have opened these places on the quiet,” Scheidler said. Planned Parenthood also used shell companies to build a megaclinic that opened last October in Fairview Heights, Ill., near the Missouri border. Scheidler has seen the organization use similar tactics with its facilities in the Illinois cities of Aurora and Flossmoor.
According to Planned Parenthood’s website, the facility will offer abortion services, including the abortion pill and surgical abortions up to 20 weeks of gestation. “In the middle of this pandemic, you now find that you’re having this unplanned pregnancy,” King said. “You now have this immediate response [at] your backdoor.”
The pandemic has provided a windfall for Planned Parenthood. Its affiliates received $80 million in federal coronavirus stimulus funds intended for small businesses. Planned Parenthood argues the local organizations fall within the qualifications for “small businesses” with 500 or fewer employees to receive the funds. But the Small Business Administration said the group’s member organizations must return the money because of their affiliation with the larger Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The affiliates could face civil or criminal penalties if the Small Business Administration determines they knowingly applied for the loans under false pretenses, the agency said in a letter.
“Taking millions of dollars designed to keep businesses from closing and at the same exact moment opening a new center… it’s just obnoxious,” Scheidler said. In response, some U.S. lawmakers are working on legislation to block further funds from going to Planned Parenthood. U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., is sponsoring a bill that would block abortion businesses from receiving coronavirus loans.
On Friday, about 400 pro-lifers wearing masks and standing apart gathered at the Waukegan Planned Parenthood to protest the new abortion facility. Scheidler, who attended, said the majority of the protesters came from the greater Waukegan area: “Response from passersby was overwhelmingly positive, with countless thumbs up” and horn honks.
But Carlson said he and his staff at the Family Resource Center of Zion would not participate. “We want people who are abortion-minded to feel comfortable to come to us,” he said. They will focus on material assistance rather than lobbying.
Before the Planned Parenthood opened, the Family Resource Center had already begun the process of adding an ultrasound program to its other free services. “We’re hoping with this ultrasound program that we’ll be able to intervene before they get into the [Planned Parenthood] doors,” King said. News of the new Planned Parenthood may have taken local pro-lifers by surprise, but “God was not surprised by this,” King said.