November 17, 2019

Students for Life protest new Planned Parenthood

Students for Life organized a protest last week at the new, secretly-constructed Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights, Ill. 

Dozens gathered in front of Planned Parenthood’s new facility in Fairview Heights, Illinois, in a protest organized by Students for Life of America (SLA) on Oct. 9.

Planned Parenthood announced the new facility’s opening in an interview with CBS earlier this month. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, told CBS that Planned Parenthood built the facility secretly to avoid protests. 

Maria Huntz stands behind a crowd as they listen to anti-abortion speakers at the new Planned Parenthood facility in Fairview Heights, Ill. Students for Life of America planned a protest on Oct. 9 to fight against the facility’s construction.

This did not sit well with SLA members, including 22-year-old Vito Cammarata. 

Cammarata said many thoughts crossed through his mind when he heard Planned Parenthood secretly built a new facility in Fairview Heights, but mostly, he felt angry. 

“I thought, ‘How typical,’” Cammarata said. “It seems really disheartening because it’s close to St. Louis.”

Planned Parenthood has faced an uphill battle against Missouri to keep its downtown St. Louis location open. Planned Parenthood built the facility 17 miles away from the location in St. Louis, which is the only abortion facility operating in Missouri.  

SLA aims to abolish abortion, according to its mission statement. SLA members have picketed along the fences of Planned Parenthoods for years with the goal to “mobilize a pro-life generation.” 

The protesting crowd gathered in front of the facility at a small stretch of public land comprising mostly of a drainage ditch.  

Children played along the outskirts of the crowd. Many as young as toddlers carried signs saying, “I am the pro-life generation.” Other protest participants carried signs from “abortion betrays women” to “Planned Parenthood hurts women.” 

Reagan Barklage, SLA’s Western region director, told the crowd the new clinic stands as a “sign of desperation.” The pro-life activists called the new 18,000-square-foot location a “mega abortion clinic.”

Members of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church honk and wave goodbye to protesters as they leave.

Barklage and other anti-abortion guest speakers chastised Planned Parenthood from a podium. Barklage, who is several months pregnant, showed an x-ray photo of her unborn son to the crowd. 

“Planned Parenthood does not help women,” Barklage said. “In fact, they see women like me and their children as walking dollar signs.”

Mary Kate Knorr, the 27-year old executive director of the Illinois Right to Life, has worked on several campaigns for anti-abortion politicians. 

“Many people say I’m too young to do this job, but I like to remind them that I am smack dab in the middle of Planned Parenthood’s target market,” Knorr said.

The clinic will start taking patients by the end of the month, according to Planned Parenthood’s website. 

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