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Columbia, Mo. — One year after arson briefly closed Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ Columbia health center, the health center has expanded access to care for patients in need of sexual and reproductive services in the community. 

Following the Feb. 10, 2019 fire, the FBI pursued an investigation under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and swiftly made an arrest. The individual responsible has since pled guilty to criminal charges, and is expected to be sentenced in federal court soon. 

No one was at the health center at the time of the fire. The damage was limited, and repairs to the health center began the next day. Patient care resumed within a week. 

“We didn’t just repair the Columbia health center; with the community’s support, we added clinical staff, expanded hours and grew our capacity to see patients who deserve high-quality, compassionate care,” said Dr. Brandon J. Hill, Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO.  “We are proud to remain an integral part of the Columbia community.”

The Columbia health center provides a range of vital services including family planning, STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, gender-affirming care, and more. Abortion services have not been available in Columbia since October 2018, when an admitting privileges law took effect.  

Under the FACE Act, blocking access to or damaging a facility that provides reproductive health services is against the law, whether it takes the form of violence and vandalism or threats against Planned Parenthood’s patients, providers, or supporters. 

“With sexual and reproductive health care under attack in Missouri, our mission is more important than ever before,” Hill said. “Missourians need greater access to the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health care, and our Columbia health center is an essential part of the larger care network in the state.”

More than 50 community organizations and supporters have signed on to a letter of support for the Columbia health center that commemorates the year anniversary of the fire. 

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Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP) has provided access to sexual and reproductive health care to women, men, and families since 1935. PPGP currently operates 10 health centers serving more than 75,000 individuals each year in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. PPGP provides community education in its major population centers and has an active public policy program in all four states.