Iowa’s GOP-held legislature in April passed a budget bill funding the state’s health and human services, which prohibited abortion providers from receiving state family planning funds. The state will forgo about $3 million in federal family planning funding through Medicaid and instead create a state-funded family planning program.
The actions taken by lawmakers in the GOP-dominated legislature are reminiscent of steps taken by Texas lawmakers in 2011, and the impact appears to have had a similar effect: Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced that it will close four of the organization’s 12 health centers in Iowa.
Suzanna de Baca, of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement that the clinics will close “as a direct result” of the legislation signed into law by Branstad.
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“These changes are devastating,” de Baca said. “More than 14,000 patients who trust Planned Parenthood with their health care in these communities and in neighboring areas no longer have access to their provider of choice.”
Advocates have deemed bogus the Republican charge that other health-care providers can meet the demand for care without Planned Parenthood clinics. The Sioux City Planned Parenthood facility in 2015, for example, served eight in ten family planning patients seeking services at a publicly funded provider in Woodbury County.
Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that the “devastating, and sometimes deadly” effects of these funding restrictions have been seen in states like Texas.
“I am concerned about the health and well-being of the people in Iowa who now can no longer turn to their trusted health care provider,” McDonald-Mosley said. “This is hardest on people who already face barriers to accessing health care—especially people of color, young people, people with low to moderate incomes, and people who live in rural areas.”
“Anti-choice politicians—who are driven by their personal beliefs, not facts—are hurting women by preventing us from being able to provide critical family planning services and lifesaving cancer screenings.”
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will close clinics in Quad Cities, Burlington, Keokuk, and Sioux City. Medication abortion services are provided at three of the four clinics and abortion referrals are provided at the Keokuk clinic.
The clinics will close on June 30, with the exception of the Quad Cities clinic, which will continue to provide limited telemedicine abortion services until the building is sold.
“In the wake of this devastating news, I have a message for these lawmakers who have so will ignored the will of their constituents—the very people who put them in office: You can knock us down, but you will not defeat us. We are still here. We will stand strong,” de Baca said.