Planned Parenthood Closing Down in Iowa Provides a Glimpse of a Frightening Future for Women's Health.
Photo: Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash
IOWA—Four of 12 Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa closed down Friday after the state elected to replace Medicaid with a unique state program that allows it to withhold family planning funds from establishments that provide abortion services in May.
Pro-life activists have led the fight to terminate the clinic for that very reason, however, abortion procedures comprise only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. It's also already illegal for federal money to go toward abortion procedures, so withholding Medicaid funds restricts access to the clinic’s other services such as contraception, STD testing and treatment, pap tests, pelvic and breast exams, cancer screenings, and more. In 2014, Planned Parenthood provided nearly 11 million medical services for almost five million Americans.
About 15,000 Iowa citizens for whom Planned Parenthood serves as a primary healthcare provider will lose that stable source of affordable care, according to Planned Parenthood itself. Suzanna de Baca, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said that “defunding Planned Parenthood will set a health care crisis in motion in Iowa.”
Lawmakers suggested that those who use Planned Parenthood as a primary healthcare provider could simply receive care at federal health clinics. Unfortunately, those providers worried that they would be unable to take on these patients’ needs as they couldn’t supply the long-term contraception methods such as IUDs and implants that Planned Parenthood can.
Ron Kemp, CEO of Community Health Centers of Southeast Iowa, is unsure that his clinics can support the sheer number of patients and their specialized needs. It would “require new equipment and an evaluation of provider capabilities and specialization,” Kemp said. “We’ll figure out a way to adapt, and expand capacity if that’s what comes in the door… sometimes that takes longer than we would like it to.” Nationwide, Planned Parenthood health centers provide birth control for nearly 2 million people, as well as over 4.2 million STD tests and treatments; over 320,000 breast exams; and nearly 295,000 Pap tests: that may be too much for other clinics to accommodate.
The major loss of healthcare for so many in the state of Iowa gives a dark glimpse into the future of a “defunded” Planned Parenthood that this year’s Republican healthcare drafts included. Around 2.4 million men and women in America go to Planned Parenthood annually, and more than half of them rely on Medicaid, so gutting the clinic’s funding would restrict crucial health services from a large number The major loss of healthcare for so many in the state of Iowa gives a dark glimpse into the future of a “defunded” Planned Parenthood that this year’s Republican healthcare drafts included.
Defunding the clinic would disproportionately affect young, low-income women, the LGBTQ+ community, and those living in rural areas. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that one year of defunding Planned Parenthood would increase the number unintended pregnancies and increase Medicaid spending by $21 million. In an era where both teen pregnancies and abortions have declined to record-low rates, stripping women and girls of access to contraception and sexual or reproductive health information would be an enormous mistake, the repercussions of which Iowa is already demonstrating.
"What’s happening now in Iowa is a preview of the devastation we’ll see nationwide if Congress 'defunds' Planned Parenthood as part of Trumpcare," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a statement provided to Refinery29. "If that happens, women across the country will be blocked from getting birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood. As Senators go home for recess, they will hear loud and clear — the people of America will not stand to see Planned Parenthood’s patients lose their access to health care."
Emily Rose is 17 years old and from Athens, Georgia. Beginning in fall 2017, she will attend Mercer University. She plans to double major in Journalism and Political Science and to minor in Global Development Studies. She is a writer, musician, activist, and feminist who hopes to use her platforms to inspire positive change by providing different perspectives on the world’s political and social issues.