Peoria Planned Parenthood to be closed for months after vandalism, fire
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Peoria's Planned Parenthood Health Center will be closed for months after it was vandalized with a fire accelerant.
The violence does not come as a surprise to abortion provider Mary Bowman. The nurse practitioner worked at Planned Parenthood's Edgewater clinic when the building's windows were shot out multiple times in 2021.
"It pretty scary to get to your place of work and see that kind of attack on it," Bowman said.
Fortunately, no one was inside the Edgewater or Peoria clinics when they were vandalized.
The violence in Peoria came two days after Governor JB Pritzker signed into law a new abortion bill protecting out of state patients and providers. Following last Friday's signing ceremony, Planned Parenthood Illinois President and CEO, Jennifer Welch, voiced her concerns about violence.
"It's important to recognize that our opposition has increased the harassment and violence at our health centers from Planned Parenthood Illinois," Welch said.
Illinois Right to Life said it does not condone violence at clinics.
"Abortion itself is an act of violence," said Mary Kate Zander, executive director of Illinois Right to Life. "I don't believe that we could stand against abortion and simultaneously condone an act of violence against an abortion clinic."
The attack against the Peoria Health Center also does not come as a shock to Illinois State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, (D) Rogers Park. As a sponsor of the state's new abortion law, Cassidy said there may be more lawmakers can do to secure clinics.
"We are looking at what Illinois can do behind the federal law protecting clinic entrances, what steps we can take if there is another layer of protection," Cassidy said,
However, Cassidy is not worried Illinois is at much higher risk for violence because it has become a safe haven for abortions.
Bowman said she is determined to not let violent extremists stop from being an abortion provider.
"For me, I've never been afraid, I've always felt it was worth the risk because abortion is such a necessary service," she said.
Bowman said the best way to protect clinics and providers is more community support for abortion rights.