The only abortion provider in Bettendorf, IA, the state’s third-largest metropolitan area, will be closing on Friday, according to the Des Moines Register. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland first announced the closure in May, after the state legislature passed a bill that prevents public funding for family planning services to be used by organizations that provide abortions.
“Defunding Planned Parenthood will set a health care crisis in motion in Iowa. We will be watching and holding politicians accountable,” Suzanna de Baca, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s president, said at the time.
The bill, which cut $2 million in Medicaid funds that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland previously received for birth control services, forced four clinics into closing, including in Bettendorf, Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City. Nearly half of Iowa women presently live in counties with clinics that don’t provide abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that focuses on sexual and reproductive health.
Despite the procedure being both safe and legal, abortion is one of the most highly politicized issues in the United States. This past year alone, 58 abortion restrictions were enacted across the country. In May, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) signed a law banning abortion at or after 20 weeks, for example. Other such restrictions often force middle-to-low income people to travel long distances to receive the procedure.
The clinic in Bettendorf closing will present a serious public health issue for people seeking abortion services in the area. The next closest abortion clinic for use by the Bettendorf community is located in Iowa City, which is 60 miles away. Over the summer, the clinic continued to offer medical abortions through a telemedicine service that would help clients access the abortion pill, the Des Moines Register reported.
“It is absurd that politicians have forced women to travel hours out of their way in order to access basic health care,” de Baca said in a statement on Wednesday. “They attempted to feed Iowans this lie that there are plenty of other places to go for the same care — but women know the truth.”
The Bettendorf clinic was the state’s largest abortion provider, however Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will continue to offer abortion services and sexual health services at eight clinics in Iowa and two in Nebraska.
Correction, 12/28/2017, 11:53 AM EST: This post has been updated to accurately reflect the number of clinics operating under Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.