PLANNED PARENTHOOD STATEMENT ON ARSON AT KNOXVILLE HEALTH CENTER
For Immediate Release: Jan. 6, 2022
Knoxville Fire Department determines fire was intentional, criminal act
KNOXVILLE — Following the announcement of an arson investigation into the Dec. 31 fire at the Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi health center in Knoxville, leaders from the health care provider condemned the attack and resolved to reconvene services as soon as possible.
“Local and federal authorities have determined that the fire at our Knoxville health center on December 31 was an intentional, criminal act,” said Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee & North Mississippi. “This is an appalling and heartbreaking act of violence towards Planned Parenthood, our patients, and our community. Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have mourned at this health center. As we reckon with this news and the road ahead of us, we remain tremendously grateful for the hard work and determination of the Knoxville Fire Department and the ATF to find the cause of this fire and bring the person, or persons, responsible to justice.
“While the investigation continues, Planned Parenthood now turns towards recovery and renewal. Our priority is to establish a safe operating site and reconvene services for our patients as soon as we possibly can. Although it will take time to rebuild, we are committed to our patients in East Tennessee and will not let this attack take away the essential health care services on which they rely.”
The health center was nearing completion on a $2.2 million renovation and expansion at the time of the fire and was deemed a complete loss.
This was the second attack on this health center in less than a year, when on Jan. 22 — the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — an unidentified gunman fired a shotgun through the front doors of the health center, located at 710 North Cherry St.
“We are devastated by this tremendous loss to Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and Northern Mississippi and to the Knoxville community. All too often, bad actors emboldened by the rhetoric of anti-abortion politicians and antagonists intentionally work to interrupt patients’ access to health care and providers’ ability to give it,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It must be made clear that these hateful acts go much further than property damage — they harm the patients who depend on safe Planned Parenthood health centers, staff, and providers to receive trusted, essential health care services. While we are horrified by this heinous act of violence, we remain encouraged by the fire department and ATF’s resolve to investigate, and grateful to those who have continued to stand with the Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi community as they work to restore access to care and rebuild.”
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.