Abortion Battle to Go to Court
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
February 9, 2023
ROCKFORD—Some neighbors of the new abortion clinic at 611 Auburn Street have reacted to abortion protests in their neighborhood with direct threats against the protesters, according to a Jan 21 incident report when some 250 people gathered to pray, sing, chant and hold signs along the street in front of and near the clinic. Police were called, directed traffic and also issued a ticket for those who were using speakers to pray the rosary together.
Kevin Rilott, president of the Rockford Family Initiative, also reports that early on Sunday morning, Dec. 27, one family that was alone and quietly praying the rosary on the sidewalk near the clinic was confronted by someone driving by who threw coffee on the father and physically assaulted him. That attack, Rilott says, was caught on video and a police report was filed.
Rilott has sent numerous emails to Mayor Tom 
McNamara, city council members, county board members and “all local elected officials for State and Federal offices,” he says. Those emails protest the clinic and its owner, Wisconsin resident Dr. Dennis Christensen, provide historical actions of Dr. Christensen when he previously operated an abortuary in Rockford, and keeps them up-to-date on current happenings.
Now a handful of neighbors have taken a different approach to the abortion clinic. They have filed a lawsuit against Dr. Dennis Christensen, Rockford Family Planning Center, the City of Rockford, and the Rockford Zoning Board of Appeals (RZO).
Those neighbors, Shawn Rylatt, Lisa Rylatt, Janet Savaiano and Amie Lotzer, all live within 1,200 feet of the new Rockford Family Planning Center (the abortion clinic), which opened Jan. 6. Their lawyers include local lawyer Peter Scordato, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society in Chicago and an attorney hired by the society who specializes in zoning and ordinance, Lindell and Tessitore, P.C. The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 30 and runs approximately 100 pages.
It seeks judicial review of the Rockford Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision to allow the medical clinic to operate as a home business while allowing the owner to live elsewhere. It seeks also a judicial review of the city’s application of the Rockford Zoning Ordinance, and asks that the court shut down the clinic and cover the cost of the lawsuit and plaintiff’s counsel.
“This case is not complex,” says the lawsuit, “and comes down to the simple fact that a medical clinic is not allowed as a home business under the RZO, and that the zoning officer has illogically and quite absurdly concluded that a ‘home business’ can be a ‘non-home business.’”
After quoting the Rockford Planning Center website about the “private practice medical clinic,” and noting the single family home/clinic is surrounded in all directions by single family residences, the lawsuit states: “Medical clinics are expressly prohibited as a home business by Section 53-004-K of the RZO.”
A special-use permit issued some 40 years ago for a previous chiropractic business at the residence was referred to by the zoning officer as a reason for permitting the current clinic. The permit itself has not been found.
And so, the lawsuit says, “As a result, the enforcement of the RZO has been left to Plaintiffs, aggrieved private citizens who live within 1200 feet of the subject site … who are seeking judicial review of the RZO decision and to enforce the RZO’s own rules.”
Future prayer vigils are in the works, Rilott says, adding, “All we can do is keep praying.”
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