Oct 2, 2019
| Washington Post – Planned Parenthood will open a large facility in southern Illinois to help the women’s health-care provider meet a surging demand from Missouri, which has only one abortion provider for a state of more than 6 million people.
The 18,000-square-foot Fairview Heights facility was constructed in secret, CBS News first reported, and would be able to accommodate 11,000 patients a year. It will start taking its first patients later this month.
An existing, smaller Fairview Heights facility took care of 5,000 patients last year alone, according to Planned Parenthood’s announcement.
The new facility would provide family planning as well as a wide array of women’s health-care services, including annual exams, breast cancer screenings and STD tests.
It will offer both medical and surgical abortions.
Missouri has some of the most severe abortion restrictions in the country, while neighboring Illinois has expanded access to its residents.
Planned Parenthood operates the only remaining abortion provider in Missouri, located in St. Louis. That clinic will remain open, according to the organization.
“The new health center is a testament to the needs of the greater bi-state region and our commitment to provide, protect and expand access to health care, no matter what,” Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said in a statement.
In an interview with CBS News, McNicholas explained that Planned Parenthood was “really intentional and thoughtful about making sure that we were able to complete this project as expeditiously as possible because we saw the writing on the wall — patients need better access, so we wanted to get it open as quickly as we could.”
“For some the 13-mile drive from our St. Louis clinic to this Illinois clinic is an opportunity for them to get that care with less judgment, less restriction, and far fewer hoops to jump through,” she said.