Health

Iowa abortion numbers climb after plummeting for decades

Critics blame rise on state's withdrawal from family planning program

An exam room is seen in June 2017 at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland's Quad Cities Health Center in Bettendorf. The
An exam room is seen in June 2017 at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s Quad Cities Health Center in Bettendorf. The Quad Cities clinic closed because of state budget cuts targeting family planning facilities that offer abortion services. Abortion numbers in Iowa increased last year after declining for decades, and critics are blaming the cuts to family planning programs. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Editor’s note: This article has been amended to reflect that the number of abortions between 2018 and 2019 in Iowa increased by 25 percent. In an earlier vsion, the Associated Press understated the size of the increase.

DES MOINES — The number of women having abortions in Iowa climbed last year, a turnaround that critics blame on the state’s controversial decision to withdraw from a federally funded family planning program.

After decades of plummeting abortion numbers, the state last year recorded 3,566 abortions — 25 percent more than the previous year, according to preliminary data from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The Des Moines Register reported last year’s increase came after the number of Iowa abortions dropped 56 percent from 2008 to 2018.

In 2017, Iowa decided to withdraw from a federally funded family planning program that had helped thousands of Iowans get birth control supplies and information on pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The program was replaced with a state-run version, which barred Planned Parenthood’s participation and has served less than a quarter as many Iowans.

“The takeaway is that when accessibility to birth control declines, the number of unplanned pregnancies increases,” said Mark Anderson, chairman of the Iowa Council on Human Services.

Human services council members had objected in 2017 to Iowa’s withdrawal from the family planning program that was supported by $3 million in federal money annually. It was replaced by a state-financed program that excluded participation by providers offering abortion services.

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