FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. — Dozens of pro-life advocates rallied outside the new Fairview Heights Planned Parenthood clinic Wednesday evening, protesting its secret construction.
As the 18,000 square-foot facility prepares to welcome patients, even one sub-contractor didn’t know he was working at a Planned Parenthood until he arrived at the site Wednesday.
"I have different feelings about it, mixed emotions,” Gene Bell said. "I'm pro-life myself, but I'm not judging these people for what they're doing.”
Planned Parenthood has said one of the reasons they built the facility in secret is fear that contractors or utility providers wouldn’t provide service.
“In order to make sure that our contractors and the people that were working on the facility were able to do so without harassment,” Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.
Fairview Heights’ mayor said he found out about the facility during the media announcement last week. In a written statement, he said the building’s owner doesn’t have to identify tenants. The permit is reviewed to make sure it meets zoning and property maintenance codes, and it meets all legal requirements, he said.
The Fairview Heights city clerk said her office was in the dark, too.
“We did not know in advance,” clerk Karen Kaufhold said.
That’s because Planned Parenthood didn't have to apply for a new business license to move from their original Fairview Heights facility.
"They didn't need something new from us. They can just transfer to a new location within the city, and it still applies,” she said.
Despite the protest, the doors will open soon. Planned Parenthood expects the facility to open late next week.
"I'm up here doing my job just like they’re doing theirs in there,” Gene Bell said. “And I’ll be here tomorrow.”
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