Four of Iowa’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics are ending operations today. This is a result of state Republican lawmakers successfully blocking federal funding to medical providers that perform abortions.
No public dollars are used to pay for abortions in Iowa. The funding went to health care services like IUD insertions and cancer screenings. But anti-abortion legislators say any public funding to Planned Parenthood indirectly supports abortion.
Planned Parenthood says these closures will affect some 14,600 patients. Critics of the sexual and reproductive health organization says people can easily make appointments with nearby providers.
But spokeswoman Rachel Lopez says people choose Planned Parenthood for a reason.
"If these patients could have been going to these health centers in these areas up until this point, why weren’t they? Why did they choose Planned Parenthood? They chose Planned Parenthood because we’re the experts in reproductive health care," she says. "And they chose Planned Parenthood because they can rely on us for that compassionate, non-judgmental, expert care."
In place of the federal dollars, the state has created the Family Planning Program, which prohibits funding to abortion providers.
The clinics that are closing are located in Sioux City, Keokuk, Burlington and Bettendorf. The Bettendorf facility will continue providing medical abortions, but no other services, until the building is sold.
In 2011 Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa merged. Since that time clinics have closed in Ankeny, Creston, Fort Dodge, Dubuque, Knoxville, Mount Pleasant, Red Oak, Spencer, Storm Lake and Washington.
Iowa's eight remaining facilities are located in the more populated cites of Ames, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, which has two clinics, Iowa City and Urbandale.