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Fort Wayne Planned Parenthood Office Shuts Due To Harassment

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ARACELI GOMEZ-ALDANA / WBOI
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Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky closed its clinic in Fort Wayne Monday after allegations of targeted harassment by anti-abortion groups.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky will be closing its Fort Wayne health center.

On Monday, President and CEO Christie Gillespie attributed the closure to intimidation and harassment, beyond the ritual protesting. The harassment included the sharing of personal information like home address of staff.

Gillespie said the closure was due solely to the continual harassment targeting patients, providers and supporters over the last few years . She identified anti-abortion groups in the Fort Wayne community as the alleged offenders specifically efforts led by Allen County Right to Life.

Fort Wayne’s Planned Parenthood pointed to Facebook posts as prove Allen County Right to Life participated in harassment and intimidation towards the center’s landlord that ultimately resulted in the termination of their lease.

Gillespie said Planned Parenthood has operated for over 80 years in the Allen County area, and does not perform abortions. She says the services they provide are in high demand.

Fort Wayne’s Planned Parenthood center provided services like birth control options, STD and HIV testing and treatment, pap tests that provide early diagnosis of cervical cancer and breast and testicular exams.

Gillespie said they particularly cared for individuals near or at the poverty level and that Right to Life and other “Anti-women” organization are dramatically reducing access to these services.

“All of this during the time where data shows Fort Wayne’s rates of STDs are higher than the rest of the state. At a time where the maternal mortality rate in Indiana is twice that of the nation,” said Gillespie.

In a statement Allen County Right to Life Executive Director Cathie Humbarger rebutted Gillespie’s claims.

“We believe Planned Parenthood's closure is due to its dwindling customer base in Indiana and its unpopularity in the greater Fort Wayne community. Planned Parenthood's accusation that intimidation by Right to Life led to this closure is simply untrue and smacks of an attempt by Planned Parenthood to turn its business woes into a fundraiser,” Humbarger said.

"Indiana Right to Life's mission is to protect the right to life, especially of unborn children, through positive education, compassionate advocacy and promotion of healthy alternatives to abortion,” Humbarger said.

Gillespie said the harassment was done subtly. She says finding providers was difficult due to the understanding that there was going to be harassment and intimidation. The lack of providers result in a decrease of patients because the center’s hours and services were limited.

Gillespie says current patients will be notified of the closure via emails and written letters. They will provide other options for services in the area.

Four Planned Parenthood employees were laid off due to the closure.

By early afternoon, a rally in support of Planned Parenthood and protecting the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court was circulating social media, planned for Monday evening at the site of the now-closed clinic.