Abortions continue to rise in Iowa after GOP’s family planning change


In 2020, Iowa had 4,058 abortions, a trend that has increased over the past three years.

There were 2,849 abortions in 2018, followed by 3,566 abortions in 2019, according to the country.

The data came from the Iowa Department of Public Health and was passed to the legislature. State Sen. Janet Petersen shared it with the Des Moines Register.

Before 2018, abortions in Iowa decreased.

The increase follows the change in the state’s family planning services. In 2017, Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican Legislators had Iowa withdraw from a government-funded family planning service to a government version called the Family Planning Program. The move was intended to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funding for their family planning services.

This led to the closure of facilities across the state due to money losses. The data shows that another result of this change is an 85 percent decrease in the number of people using government family planning services.

Most abortion advocates argue that the family planning program – and its lack of use – is what is causing the rise in abortions.

“The rise in abortions after years of declining rates is likely because fewer Iowans have access to birth control and sex education today than they did a few years ago,” Jamie Burch Elliott said in a Planned Parenthood press release.

Elliot is the Iowa Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood North Central States.

“Family planning programs have declined and are proven to reach fewer people,” she said. “Health centers that provide affordable reproductive health care have had to close, limiting access to affordable birth control and contraception.”

Opponents of abortion argue that abortion is too easy in Iowa as the 2018 Supreme Court ruled a fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution. That’s what Maggie DeWitte, managing director of the Iowans for Life group, argued. She told the registry that this finding tied the hands of anti-abortionists.

Six of the nine Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa offer abortion services, while the other three – in Cedar Rapids, Urbandale, and one of the two clinics in Des Moines – offer referrals. All nine clinics offer additional health services. The Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City also provides abortion services.

Iowa has tried various bills to limit abortion for years, from waiting times to bans at certain times, but those efforts have been blocked by the Iowa courts.

This year, the Iowa Legislature took the first step to amend the Constitution that states that the state has no basic right to abortion. If the change goes into effect, abortion bans would likely follow suit.

by Nikoel Hytrek

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