Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky has closed its Fort Wayne health center.
On Monday, President and CEO Christie Gillespie attributed the closure to intimidation and harassment of patients, providers and supporters over the last few years. She said it went beyond the ritual protesting and included the sharing of staff members' personal information -- like home addresses.
Gillespie 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 proof the group participated in harassment and intimidation of the center’s landlord that ultimately resulted in the termination of its lease.
Gillespie said Planned Parenthood has operated in the Allen County area for more than 80 years, and does not perform abortions. She said the services they provide -- like birth control options, STD and HIV testing and treatment, pap tests and breast and testicular exams -- are in high demand.
Gillespie said they particularly cared for individuals near or at the poverty level and the organizations targetting Planned Parenthood are 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 Kathie 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.
Gillespie says current patients will be notified of the closure and other options for services in the area via emails and written letters.
Four Planned Parenthood employees were laid off due to the closure.