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WEATHER ALERT: Severe storms expected late this afternoon and evening

Peoria Planned Parenthood clinic is reopening, more than a year after firebombing

The Peoria Planned Parenthood clinic as of Wednesday morning. Several windows were boarded up, and a fence was erected in front of the building.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois is reopening its Peoria Health Center Monday, nearly a year-and-a-half after the building sustained more than $1 million in damages after a firebombing attack.

“We did take advantage of the opportunity to completely reconfigure and optimize to increase our patient facing space at our health center to make it so we can see more patients,” said director of clinical operations Brittany Freed.

Freed said the clinic also beefed up what was already a “robust” security system.

“We thought of security as they designed some of the exterior features. We have cameras all over,” she said. “We have what we call vestibules, so that we can let patients in through a smaller lockdown portion of the health center before coming into our actual waiting room and then to the clinic space.”

The clinic at 2709 N. Knoxville Ave. doesn’t currently offer surgical abortions, but it does have family planning, STI, and gender-affirming care services. The clinic does have medication abortion services available.

“The Peoria Health Center plays a vital role in the Central Illinois community and surrounding states. Thanks to the ongoing support from Peoria leaders, residents, and donors we have the pleasure to be part of this amazing community once again,” said Jennifer Welch, Planned Parenthood of Illinois president and CEO, in a prepared statement.

Tyler Massengill, 33, of Chillicothe, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in August 2023 for the arson. He was also ordered to pay more than $1.4 million in restitution.

“The fire started in the waiting room, but the damage was through the entire building. And so everything inside of our health center is brand new. And it’s beautiful,” said Freed.

The National Abortion Federation says attacks against abortion providers nationwide have increased substantially since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. In Illinois, patient demand at Planned Parenthood clinics has increased by 54% since the fall of Roe.

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Severe storms possible Thursday evening and overnight

From the National Weather Service in Central Illinois: A line of t’storms will affect the area late Thursday afternoon into the overnight hours. Some severe storms are in the forecast, with damaging wind gusts and large hail. Stay weather aware and be ready to take shelter when storms approach.