Protesters gather at new Planned Parenthood Center in Fairview Heights

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FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. (WCIA) — Protesters gathered at the new Planned Parenthood clinic in Fairview Heights a week before it is scheduled to open.

Students of Life for America along with other pro-life leaders from Missouri and Illinois led the protest. This will be the first of many.

“We are here today to say this is exactly why they didn’t want us here. They didn’t want us to show up,” Reagan Barklage, Regional Director for Students for Life of America. “That is why they kept it quiet, but we are here, and we are not leaving until this place shuts down.”

The Planned Parenthood center was built in secret. The project started last year, but nobody knew what was actually going to occupy the building.

“What we wanted to avoid in this project was delay,” Jesse Lawder, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Planned Parenthood in the region, said. “We saw the writing on the wall in Missouri, and realized that the best thing we could do for our patients, and our mission, was to increase access to care.”

Planned Parenthood already had a clinic in Fairview Heights, but it was a much smaller facility. It was located in a strip mall, and according to Planned Parenthood officials, it was “bursting at the seams.” The new facility will accommodate the influx of patients from both Illinois and Missouri.

“We definitely expect to see an increase of patients, not only for Family Planning services, and they may certainly cross the river from Missouri, but also for abortion services because this is a haven state,” Charity Galgani said.

Representative Avery Bourne joined the ranks of the protesters. She was one of the several speakers at the event.

“What a shame that the people in Fairview Heights did not have input into this,” Bourne said. “What a shame that they hid this from the public because they knew that people were opposed to it. If you aren’t willing to come out with your plans in public, then you should probably rethink what you are doing.”

Bourne was an outspoken critic of the Reproductive Health Act last legislative session, and said that this clinic is a perfect example of what the RHA was meant to do.

The new facility will offer both medication and surgical abortions, along with all other family planning procedures Planned Parenthood offers. The old Fairview Heights facility only offered medication abortions.

Bot medication and surgical abortions were already offered at a clinic in Granite City.

The new facility is not far from the Illinois-Missouri border, and from the last Planned Parenthood Clinic that offers abortions in Illinois.

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