Metro-East News

Anti-abortion rally planned outside of new Fairview Heights Planned Parenthood clinic

A week after the announcing the opening of a new clinic that will offer abortions, Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights will see its first set of demonstrators.

An anti-abortion rally is planned for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon outside of the Planned Parenthood at 317 Salem Place. The rally is being organized by Students for Life of America and other anti-abortion rights leaders in Missouri and Illinois.

The clinic was constructed as abortion access is being restricted in Missouri, but expanded in Illinois.

Missouri’s only licensed abortion provider, the Planned Parenthood location on Forest Park Avenue in St. Louis, will continue providing surgical abortions. That facility is involved in a battle over whether it could keep its license.

Planned Parenthood is also fighting Missouri in court over its new law to criminalize abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction pausing the abortion ban while it is litigated.

“But crossing state lines to avoid the deadly reality of their abortion business will not be enough,” said Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins. “Students for Life of America will join other pro-life leaders in the region to let women know that they have life-affirming options and that the ugly truth of how Planned Parenthood and abortion harms women will be as accurate in Illinois as it is everywhere else.”

Among the speakers schedule to appear at Wednesday’s demonstration are Illinois Right to Life Executive Director Mary Kate Knorr, Madison Reynolds of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Students for Life, Mary Varni from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and state Rep. Avery Bourne, R- Raymond.

When the Reproductive Health Act, which made abortion access a fundamental right in the state, was debated on the House floor at the end of May, Bourne, who gave birth in June, was a vocal critic of the legislation.

Bourne spoke and asked questions for an extended amount of time as Republicans yielded their time to her.

Planned Parenthood kept construction of the Fairview Heights facility a secret in order to keep people from protesting and to keep the project on schedule.

Fairview Heights Police Public Information Officer Tim Mueller said at least 50 people are expected to attend the rally, but isn’t sure how many additional protesters may show up. Extra officers are scheduled to be on duty during the rally, he said.

Mueller said the police department has not heard if any counter demonstrators will be attending, but the department is monitoring social media.

There is a fence surrounding the property, and rally organizers have called on attendees to stay at least one foot away from the Planned Parenthood property. Space for the rally may be tight as there are no sidewalks outside of the future Planned Parenthood location.

“We’re going to try to keep people out of the roadway,” Mueller said.

Mueller said there will be no parking on Salem Place, and parking will be allowed only on one side of Executive Drive.

Parking in the area may be limited even though there are several businesses in the area.

“Businesses have the right to keep people off of their property if they wish,” Mueller said.

Organizers encouraged those attending to car pool.

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.