Iowa Shutters A Third Of Its Planned Parenthood Clinics

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Thanks to budget cuts from the state's Republican-controlled legislature, four Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa shuttered their doors permanently on Friday. The closures were announced in May and will affect around 14,600 patients in the area who used the three clinics' services, according to the Gazette.

In April, the Iowa state legislature passed a health and human services budget that defunded Planned Parenthood and any group in the state that performs abortions. As a result, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland — the wing of the organization that operates in Iowa and Nebraska — saw its budget plummet by nearly $2 million, according to the Gazette.

“It’s just so frustrating to think that we can’t be a provider here anymore,” Angela Rodriguez-Finch, director of the shuttered Bettendorf clinic, told the Gazette. “It’s not [whether the care is] good enough or not good enough — what it is is, ‘I don’t like that entity.’”

Planned Parenthood operates over 600 health centers across the country, the organization says, which are collectively visited by about 2.4 million people every year. Although the group does perform abortions, it estimates that 80 percent of its patients visit clinics for services to prevent unwanted pregnancies before they occur. Around one in five U.S. women have visited a Planned Parenthood clinic at some point in their lives, the group says.

Public funding for Planned Parenthood has long been the source of political tension, largely because the organization's abortion services. Although federal law already prohibits federal funds from paying for abortions, the organization does indirectly receive federal funds, and this has sparked a debate over what share of Planned Parenthood's services are abortions — a question to which there is no clear answer.

The organization says that abortions only comprise 3 percent of the services it provides. Some critics have alleged that 94 percent of the services the clinic provides are abortions, but this is incorrect: Although 94 percent of pregnant women who visit the clinic do so to receive an abortion, pregnant women make up a small minority of Planned Parenthood's clients, according to its own statistics. An analysis by concluded that in 2013, no more than 12 percent of the people who visited Planned Parenthood received an abortion there.

The question of Planned Parenthood funding has become central to Republicans' effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Both the Senate and the House versions of the health care bill would withhold most federal funds from the organization for one year. However, this provision might convince some moderate Republican senators to vote against the bill, which can't pass if more than three Republicans vote against it.

“What’s happening in Iowa is heartbreaking,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the Washington Post. “If Trumpcare is passed into law, we’ll see that kind of devastation happen nationwide, with far too many women simply going without the health care they need. ”