Planned Parenthood on Thursday announced it will close four of its 12 clinics in Iowa, after the new Republican-led Legislature cut its state funding this year.
Local affiliate Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said the closings will hurt access to reproductive health care in Iowa, especially in rural areas.
More than 14,600 people visited the impacted clinics located around the state in the past three years.
“This is a case of extreme Iowa politicians deciding they know what’s better for a woman’s health than the women actually seeking care, with devastating consequences,” said Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, in a statement.
The clinics set for closing are located in Sioux City in northwest Iowa, Bettendorf in eastern Iowa, and Burlington and Keokuk in the southeast corner of the state.
Most facilities are slated to be shut down June 30, though the Bettendorf centre will be open for several more months amid staffing logistics.
The closings will reduce the number of Planned Parenthood facilities in Iowa that provide abortions from eight to five.
The organization emphasised that services on the chopping block would also include birth control, emergency contraception and testing for sexual transmitted diseases.
In addition, more than 30 employees within the organization will be laid off.
Earlier this week, Planned Parenthood announced it was closing its only clinic in Wyoming and three of its clinics in New Mexico.
Republican lawmakers in Iowa agreed last legislative session to give up millions of dollars in federal Medicaid money in order to create a state-run family planning program that excludes clinics affiliated with abortion services or referrals.
The new state family planning program will cost the state about $3 million; the previous setup with the federal government allowed Iowa to pay about $300,000 through a 90 per cent to 10 per cent match.
Iowa faced tough budgeting decisions this year, and the costly new program was approved as a GOP priority despite criticism from Democrats that it would happen during state-wide budgeting constraints and drastic agency cuts.
Iowa Republicans have long-sought to defund Planned Parenthood as well as promote legislation restricting abortions.
This year, they also approved a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and added a 72-hour waiting period to get an abortion. The waiting period has been temporarily halted amid a legal challenge.
While several states have attempted to remove state funding for Planned Parenthood, few have done so by forgoing Medicaid family planning reimbursements altogether. Texas, in 2011, took similar action and created a family planning program.
Amid budget constraints, it’s now reversing course and asking for a waiver that would allow them to receive federal money again while still excluding abortion providers.
A report from a Texas agency found that 30,000 fewer women were served in the Texas family planning program following the changes.
More than 80 family planning centres also closed in Texas, a third of which were Planned Parenthood affiliates.
The current system that used federal Medicaid money will expire June 30, according to the Iowa Department of Human Services.
Participants will automatically be transferred to the new state-run program, which covers the same services as long as they are not sought at a clinic offering abortions.
Department spokeswoman Amy McCoy said participants will need to bring proof of coverage to receive those services.
No state dollars are used to pay for abortions in Iowa, though anti-abortion groups and Republicans have argued that giving money to Planned Parenthood indirectly helps pay for the medical procedures.
The cut was part of the state’s roughly $7.2 billion budget, which was approved recently by outgoing Gov. Terry Branstad.
He’s expected to soon become U.S. ambassador to China. He prioritized the defunding move during his final session in office.
Ben Hammes, a spokesman for the governor, cited data he claims will ensure there are family planning services “in every corner of the state.” He said in an email the governor’s office was proud of the Legislature’s move.
“The pro-life movement is making tremendous strides in changing the hearts and minds, to return to a culture that once again respects human life,” Hammes said.
Source: ABC NEWS