October 2, 2007 / 5:07 PM / in 10 years

Controversy embroils U.S. abortion services clinic

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Planned Parenthood opened its largest U.S. clinic on Tuesday after weeks of protests and legal wrangling which it said may signal a growing political battle over reproductive health services such as abortion.

The clinic in the city of Aurora west of Chicago that serves three surrounding counties opened its doors after city officials said a review found it had acted legally in filing for permits for the building.

Abortion opponents had contended Planned Parenthood, which operates more than 860 such U.S. facilities, had used subterfuge in applying to build the structure by using the name “Gemini Office Development” instead of its own.

The 22,000-square-foot (2,045-sq-metre) building is the largest Planned Parenthood clinic yet built in the United States, the group said, and it will serve about 25,000 patients a year, with probably less than 10 percent of those abortion-related.

“We are convinced that the struggles the Aurora center faced in opening may be reflective of a growing battle against politics trumping health care, and increased barriers to reproductive health care access,” the group said in announcing that the clinic had opened.

Abortion opponents had picketed near the building before it opened and were present again on Tuesday.

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