I don’t usually cover the abortion issue here, but I’ve been loosely following the Illinois Review‘s coverage of the Planned Parenthood fight in Aurora, and it’s taken a really weird direction.
As I understand it, a front company called Gemini Office Development built a medical building in Aurora, putting it through the whole city approval process without ever revealing that Planned Parenthood would be coming in as the sole tenant and opening a clinic that performs abortions.
Opponents of the clinic have been fighting it using, of all things, the zoning rules. Jill Stanek says,
Based on the 3 issues, the ZBA will either decide to close down Planned Parenthood for multiple ordinance and zoning violations, or not.
If so great, the rule of law has prevailed.
That’s absurd. Zoning boards are the opposite of the rule of law. Although there are some legitimate aspects, zoning is often little more than a way for local politicians and busybodies to try to control what other people do with their own property. That sort of thing used to bother conservatives.
To see what’s being called the rule of law these days, consider this statement from attorney Peter Breen:
Aurora zoning ordinances…state [that] certificates of occupancy can’t be issued when there are zoning irregularities. … Not only have city officials acknowledged zoning screw-ups, zoning violations are now clearly visible, including parking, set-backs, and wrong approvals from the City.
(As quoted by Jill Stanek. Ellisions and insertions are mine.)
An entire business should be shut down and all those people kept unemployed because of parking and set-backs? What ever happened to the conservative demand that government should stay off the backs of business?
The most telling part of this whole situation was an interview with a Planned Parenthood spokesman on Hannity and Colmes. The spokesman said, “We followed the letter of the law.” What I heard was, “we did everything we could to avoid following the spirit of the law.” It seems that every day, new facts emerge to prove that I heard right.
The “spirit of the law”? Zoning ordinances don’t have any spirit. They’re just rules, and not terribly important ones.
How weird is it that one of the most contentious issues of our day would come down to zoning?