© 2024 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Planned Parenthood Quietly Builds Large-Scale Clinic

This is an architectural drawing of a clinic Planned Parenthood is scheduled to open this month in Fairview Heights in southwestern Illinois.
Plannned Parenthood
This is an architectural drawing of a clinic Planned Parenthood is scheduled to open this month in Fairview Heights in southwestern Illinois.

*The city of Fairview Heights in southwestern Illinois has drawn national attention for the stealthily built Planned Parenthood Clinic that will open there later this month.

The 18,000-square-foot clinic will dwarf another one that  Planned Parenthood already operates in Fairview Heights, about a dozen miles from downtown St. Louis.  That site only provides medication abortions and other medical treatments.

Dr. Colleen McNicholas is the Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis and Southwestern Missouri region, which will run the clinic. She says the opening of the clinic wasn’t announced until last week for fear that anti-abortion workers would sabotage the $7 million project.

But Andrew Bath, executive vice president of the Thomas More Society, an anti-abortion group, said Planned Parenthood had to launch what he called “a sneak attack because they're not welcome there.” The project, he said is “gruesome and awful.”

The Thomas More Society has a history of suing large-scale Planned Parenthood clinics such as the 22,000-square-foot facility that opened in 2007 in Aurora, in northern Illinois. He said the group is again considering legal action.

Anti-abortion activists are also using the law to try to close Missouri’s lone abortion clinic, which is in St. Louis.  

McNicholas said the addition of the clinic is important to the region because many states, including Missouri, have adopted tight abortion restrictions.

“These are all states that have been working to further restrict abortion. And so Illinois really has been and will become a haven for people who need access to comprehensive reproductive health care,’’ McNicholas said

Bath sees what’s happening from a much different perspective.

“Now that they're planting these mega clinics, just outside the border of pro- life states, they're turning the state of Illinois into an abortion-tourism destination state, which we think is abhorrent,” he said.

McNicholas said women need access to safe abortion and that the new clinic will offer a wide-range of health services, such as cancer screening, vaccinations and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

* Clarification: NPR Illinois changed this headline to reflect NPR standards, which state that the words "abortion" and "clinic" should not be put together because "clinics provide other procedures and not just abortion."

Copyright 2019 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.