Protests greet opening of Planned Parenthood in Kissimmee

Ribbon-cutting ceremony held at facility

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando celebrated its first health center in Kissimmee with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting Wednesday morning.

The clinic at 610 Oak Commons Blvd. in Kissimmee became the third Planned Parenthood facility in Central Florida.

The controversial clinic has already seen a lot of activity from opponents who did not want to see the clinic built in Osceola County because it will provide abortions.

In April, a bomb squad was called in to investigate a suspicious package with an unknown substance that was left at the center. Kissimmee police say it was put there intentionally.  A day earlier, someone tried breaking into the facility after hundreds showed up to a city commission meeting to protest.

The $2 million health center will provide abortions, birth control, HIV testing, cancer screenings and gynecological care.  It's estimated that the clinic will serve 10,000 patients each year.

A "STOP Planned Parenthood of Kissimmee" Facebook page has almost 700 likes and, according to the page, a protest will be held at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  About 30 to 40 protesters held anti-abortion signs and used a bullhorn to voice their opposition.

A patrol officer told Local 6 that the department beefed up security, patrolling the facility throughout the morning.  Planned Parenthood also hired its own security for the event.

"There are a lot of concerned citizens that don't want this here," says Michelle Herzog.

The clinic will provide abortions, but anti-abortion advocates like Herzog say the center shouldn't have been allowed to open. They claim the area isn't zoned for a clinic that provides surgical services.

"They aren't open yet. And we are hoping the mayor and city commissioners will go through with the zoning law that prohibits surgeries here," she said.

But Kissimmee commissioners had no say in allowing the clinic because it fit the existing zoning for the area.

Dick Maxwell came to protest from New Port Richey.

"Its collateral damage, it has to go when the nation shuts down abortion," says Maxwell.

Jenna Tosh, CEO of Planned parenthood of Greater Orlando, says the clinic will also provide preventive care for women. Osceola county currently ranks 41st out of 67 counties in Florida for access to health care.

"If the protestors outside were concerned about woman's health I think they would be working with Planned Parenthood to expand access to care," says Tosh.

Representative Alan Grayson was also at the ribbon cutting.

"What this clinic does is provide health care to people who wouldn't be able to see a doctor when they're sick," Grayson said.

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