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Preview of the Devastation That Could Happen Nationally if Congress Passes the American Health Care Act Which “Defunds” Planned Parenthood Nationwide

Washington, DC -- Because of a dangerous new Iowa law signed by Governor Branstad, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will be forced to close four health centers, leaving more than 14,600 women without the health care they depend on in Quad Cities, Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City. 

The Iowa law is similar to federal legislation that passed the House earlier this month and is now being considered by the Senate. Embedded in the American Health Care Act (the ACA repeal bill), the language would prohibit all Medicaid patients -- more than half of the millions who turn to Planned Parenthood each year for care -- from getting basic services such as cancer screenings, birth control, annual checkups, and STD testing and treatment from Planned Parenthood health centers, leaving many with nowhere else to turn for care.

Statement from Suzanna de Baca, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland:

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. We will do everything we can to continue to care for as many patients as we can. However, the harsh reality is that, despite all our efforts, there will be women who fall through the cracks and lose access to health care because of this dangerous legislation.

Statement from Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, Chief Medical Officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

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. 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. What is happening in Iowa is what we could see across the country if Congress passes this dangerous law to defund Planned Parenthood.This is hardest on people who already face barriers to accessing health care — especially people of color, young people, people with low to moderate incomes, and people who live in rural areas.

Without Planned Parenthood, many patients will have nowhere else to go for care. In 2015, Planned Parenthood health centers in Iowa served nearly half of all female patients accessing contraception care at a publicly funded health center. In three out of the four counties with health centers closing, Planned Parenthood served 80% or more of the women access contraception at a publicly funded health center (Burlington, 96%; Keokuk, 92%; and Sioux City, 80%). When the Keokuk Planned Parenthood health center in rural Lee County closes, patients will be forced to drive nearly an hour to the next safety-net family planning provider. Each of those three health centers (Burlington, Keokuk, and Sioux City) are also located in counties that rank in top 10 highest for Chlamydia when compared to other counties in Iowa.

In 2011, the state of Texas did the very same thing and “defunded” Planned Parenthood. Two years later, nearly 30,000 fewer women received birth control, cancer screenings, and other care as a result. There was also a 27 percent increase in births among women who lost access to injectable contraception. The maternal mortality rate in Texas  has doubled since 2010, coinciding with stringent funding cuts for women’s health care and “defunding” Planned Parenthood. Even more alarming, these rates are disproportionately high among Black women.

In addition to being devastating, this is not what Iowans want. 77 percent of Iowans surveyed by the Des Moines Register, including 62 percent of Iowa Republicans, support maintaining patients’ access to the high-quality, often lifesaving care Planned Parenthood provides. Iowans are in line with the majority of Americans on this. 75% of Americans support Planned Parenthood and oppose efforts to “defund” and cut off care at our health centers.