Following in Texas' disastrous footsteps, four Planned Parenthood clinics will close in Iowa because of the state government's actions to partially defund the health organization. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a health and human services budget that discontinued the state's federal Medicaid family planning waiver and replaced it with a state program that excludes any clinic that offers abortions.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced on Thursday that it will close one third of its 12 health centers in Iowa this summer, leaving an estimated 14,600 patients in Quad Cities, Burlington, Keokuk, and Sioux City without their current healthcare provider.
Iowa's $1.77 billion health and human services budget keeps roughly the same amount of funds for family planning as the previous year, but places new restrictions on which facilities can receive money to cover low-income patients' health care. Because the Hyde Amendment already prevents federal funds from paying for abortion, the budget change is the latest attempt by Republican politicians to shut down abortion providers.
Back in 2011, Texas took similarly drastic measures, cutting its family planning budget by more than $70 million and directing it away from clinics that provided abortion. Across the state, 25% of all family planning clinics closed, and about 30,000 fewer women had access to a health clinic two years later.
Clinic closures in the Lone Star State also forced women to drive four times farther to have an abortion. A Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) study found that Texas women whose closest clinic stayed open drove an average of 22 miles, while women whose closest clinic closed drove an average of 85 miles for health services. The women furthest from an open clinic had to drive more than 250 miles.
Iowa's new regulations forced clinics to close right away, which foreshadows what will happen if the healthcare bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in May becomes law. The GOP's American Health Care Act proposes cutting off Medicaid reimbursements Planned Parenthood currently receives for treating low-income patients for one year unless its clinics stop performing abortions.
"We have seen what happens in states like Texas, and now in Iowa, when politicians attack access to care at Planned Parenthood — it’s devastating, and sometimes deadly, for the women who are left with nowhere to turn for care," Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement to Refinery29. "I am concerned about the health and well-being of the people in Iowa who now can no longer turn to their trusted health care provider."
Texas has already proven that when a state cuts off Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funds, it forces clinics to close and keeps women from getting the health services they need. Now, Iowa has followed suit and essential care for women is at stake in one more state.