Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said Thursday it is closing four clinics in Iowa in response to a bill passed by the Iowa Legislature's Republican majority that blocks public money for family planning services to abortion providers.
Health centers will be closed in Bettendorf, Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City that have served more than 14,600 individual patients in the past three years, said Susana de Baca, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. Eight health centers will remain open elsewhere in Iowa.
De Baca said the impact will be devastating for Planned Parenthood's patients who have received family planning care in those four communities. It will be hardest on people who already face barriers to access health care, especially people of color, young people, poor people and rural residents, she said.
"Defunding Planned Parenthood will set a health care crisis in motion in Iowa. We will be watching and holding politicians accountable," de Baca said.
Republican Gov. Terry Branstad signed a $1.7 billion health and human services appropriations bill last week that calls for the Iowa Department of Human Services to discontinue the federal Medicaid family planning network waiver, foregoing about $3 million in federal funding. Instead, the state will use about $3.3 million to recreate its own family planning network so that it can prohibit the funding of clinics that provide abortions.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is Iowa's largest provider of abortions, although no taxpayer money is spent on abortions. The legislation cuts off about $2 million in public money to Planned Parenthood.
Jodi Tomlonovic, executive director of the Family Planning Council of Iowa, who had testified against the legislation, said the loss of services at the four health centers can't be duplicated by other Iowa medical providers. She said they lack the expertise and ability to accommodate a large number of additional family planning patients.
"We are concerned this will have a severely negative impact on family planning services," Tomlonovic said. "You will see increases in unintended pregnancies, teen births, and abortions" as well as increases in sexual transmitted diseases and cervical cancer."
But Iowa groups opposed to abortion were elated with Planned Parenthood's announcement. They predicted no reduction in health care services for women under the new legislation.
“I would say this is fantastic news for women and families in the state of Iowa," remarked Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life. "We would say the services and care provided by Planned Parenthood in the state of Iowa were not what women and families deserved. We have said from the very beginning that there are many, many other qualified health centers that provide comprehensive health care for women."
That's an argument I don't understand, if the goal is to provide more women with more access to health services, why cut off what essentially has been one of the most successful public-private government health service partnerships around?
Oh yes, the goal isn't to provide services for women, it's to punish poor women for being "promiscuous sluts" while providing access for wealthy women to get what services they need privately. But then why deny poor women family planning services, since Republicans obviously hate poor women having kids out of wedlock?
Same answer: women having sex needs to be controlled and limited only to those who can be fiscally responsible (and therefore morally and genetically favored) for reproduction. Make it as difficult as possible for those people to outbreed Real 'Muricans in a Real 'Murican state like Iowa. Besides, those little bastards grow up wanting services and.or wanting to vote, and we can't have that.
It really does all come back to making reproductive rights and making voting rights virtually impossible in order to control the politics of demographics, guys. There's a reason the GOP is absolutely obsessed with stopping Democrats from being able to exercise either one.