CBS News reported that Planned Parenthood announced the new facility on Oct. 2 after having used a shell company to build the clinic under the code name “Alaska.”
The new clinic, in Fairview Heights, is situated just miles from neighboring Missouri, and some 13 miles from Missouri’s last remaining abortion clinic in St. Louis. The massive abortion center is “positioned to accommodate patients from nearby states with strict abortion laws,” reported CBS.
The enormous facility is expected to take patients later in October and will be able to handle 11,000 patients a year, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood told the station.
Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said the massive Illinois facility was built in stealth to avoid protests and delays.
“We were 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,” she told CBS News.
In June, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the “Reproductive Health Act,” which lifts restrictions on late-term abortions and ends criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions. It also compels insurance companies to provide coverage for abortion, contraception, and related medical care.
Lila Rose, president of pro-life group Live Action, referred to the announcement of the new mega abortion clinic as an opportunistic move by Planned Parenthood in the context of the state’s new abortion laws. She wrote on Twitter, “Communities don’t want abortion clinics near their homes and schools, so [Planned Parenthood] lies and manipulates to build their business.”
“Illinois’ new abortion law is even more radical than New York’s. It permits the killing of babies through all nine months, deregulates all abortion facilities, and allows non-physicians to commit abortions,” she added. “It’s no wonder PP has rushed in to build their abortion empire. Horrific.”
Laws in Illinois and Missouri are far apart when it comes to abortion.
In May, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill into law banning most abortions in the state. The legislation stated, “It is the intent of the general assembly of the state of Missouri to defend the right to life of all humans, born and unborn, and declares that Missouri … [is] a ‘sanctuary of life’ that protects pregnant women and their unborn children.”
The last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri in St. Louis lost its license to perform abortions on June 21 over patient safety concerns, although a judge ruled on the same day that it can remain open and can carry out abortions for the time being until a final ruling is dealt.
It does not make exceptions for cases of rape and incest and includes a provision triggering a statewide abortion ban if the Supreme Court overturns its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
A federal judge in August temporarily blocked the law.
This is not the first time Planned Parenthood has built a large abortion center. In 2010, the abortion provider built a 78,000 square foot clinic in Houston, Texas.
Reuters contributed to this report.