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FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. – Planned Parenthood will be opening a new family planning and abortion care facility in the Metro East that will begin seeing patients later this month.

The 18,000 square foot center will be located in Fairview Heights, Illinois, putting it in close proximity with Missouri, which has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country. At present, the facility in St. Louis currently fighting to keep its license.

The new location will replace the organization’s current Fairview Heights health center and increase access to abortion services and the morning after pill.

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region offers sexual and reproductive health care and provides contraception, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, education and more to tens of thousands of women and men each year.

“So proud to expand the number of people that we are now going to be able to serve from across the Midwest,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an OB-GYN at Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic.

The new, much larger facility plans to serve the region.

“We are thrilled to be able to better serve our patients through this new center, both in Southern Illinois and around the region,” said Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri. “The new health center is a testament to the needs of the greater bi-state region and our commitment to provide, protect and expand access to health care, no matter what. We look forward to joining other abortion providers across the area, including our partners at Hope Clinic for Women, as regional leaders in the quest to ensure every person can control their reproductive destiny.”

Planned Parenthood said the facility was built in secret to avoid protesters and delays. Other projects reportedly ran into problems once the public realized the construction was for an abortion provider.

The current Fairview Heights location will continue to see patients until later in October. The new health center will soon be taking appointments and those needing care will be able to make their appointments online or by phone in the coming weeks. Close to 5,000 people sought care at the Fairview Heights health center in 2018.