The religious crazies that inhabit the Iowa legislature have reached part of their goal – they have caused some closings in Iowa of what they view as the mortal enemy of their God – Planned Parenthood. While they are no doubt claiming a great victory, women especially on Iowa’s east coast will suffer.
Clinics will be closing in Sioux City, Iowa’s 6th largest county, the Quad Cities, Iowa’s 3rd largest county along with two other Mississippi River cities, Burlington and Keokuk. Last year these clinics served nearly 15,000 women.
Closing Planned Parenthood clinics is all the rage among those on the right who want to establish a form of Christian sharia laws to run our government. The goal is ostensibly to stop abortion. Their claim is that any money that Planned Parenthood takes in from a state source for any service frees money up in the PP organization that can be used to provide an abortion. Thus their goal has been to cut off any state funds to PP no matter what the service. Terry Branstad as one of his last acts signed the bill and put the law into effect. Thus Iowa joins a list of states that imposes Christian morality on its citizens.
PP does provide abortions, but no state dollars are involved in that process. So instead of actually stopping their hated prey they will greatly lessen access to health care designed for women, especially for the poor. It is like shooting a shotgun at a target and hitting everything but the target. PP has been instrumental especially in the early detection of breast cancer for women.
So we can look forward to an increase in breast cancer for women in areas where the clinics are closing. Also, based on the experience of Indiana we can expect an explosion in venereal disease. VD used to be a scourge in the US back in the bad old days of the 1950s and before. Medicines to stop the spread of VD were just coming into use and hygienics and knowledge kept most people very vulnerable to a VD epidemic.
However, public health care fought a valiant fight to keep VD at bay. Medications, sexual knowledge transmitted in public schools, increase emphasis on hygiene including increased use of condoms and most importantly access to health care for all have dramatically decreased the fear of VD. Yet just last year we saw Indiana undergo a small epidemic of VD in areas where PP clinics were closed.
In the place of PP clinics that are geared to full health care for women, the Iowa legislature thinks that some amalgamation of other type of clinics will fill in for services offered by PP. For the most part they will be poor substitutes and may be hard to access for poor women. Remember also that there will be 15,000 additional patients for these substitutes to shoehorn in.
A story on Iowa’s situation in the Atlantic offers this sobering analysis:
In recent months, Republicans have offered lists of alternative clinics where IFPN patients can receive family-planning care. An initial list released by Republicans included a dentist’s office, a school nurse, and a youth shelter. A more recent list, sent to me in February by Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s office, was more thorough: an Excel spreadsheet containing 47 federally qualified health centers and 170 rural health clinics. Many of the providers listed were duplicates, at least one clinic was permanently closed, and several told me they didn’t actually provide family-planning services. On the rural-clinic side, only a few would likely be used by patients as alternatives to Planned Parenthood, since most were at least an hour’s drive from the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic.
Now, consider what Republicans have done to access to health care in Iowa in just a little over a year. Branstad unilaterally took a huge chunk (15% or more) of the money that was going to actual health care from medicaid in Iowa to give it to the Managed Care Operators (MCOs). Now we are facing the closing of health clinics for women.
This is only the cutting edge of what Republicans want to do nation wide. Republican proposals to reform health care nationally include huge cuts to medicaid, the return of exceptions for pre-existing conditions and pricing as much as 25% of the public out of health insurance.
There may be a few people, mostly men, who think this Republican assault on the nation’s health will not affect them they may want to think again. The assault on women’s health can easily be turned on anyone who the christian jihadi’s feel have been afflicted with a disease that was caused by a person’s lifestyle or bad decisions.
Just Monday, first Alabama representative and then administration budget director Michael Mulvaney expressed the thought that type 2 diabetics should not be covered since their disease is (purported to be) caused by laziness and food choices. No doubt that list can easily be expanded to include heart disease, alcohol consumption problems, accidents due to poor judgment and on and on. Surely each of us has something that could be said to be caused by some poor decision.
So if your celebrating the closing of PP clinics, be advised you may be next.
On a personal note I just want to say that it is hard to write something when what I really want to do is get in the face of those who caused this to happen and just scream! Do you have any idea what the consequences are??? And why should you impose your religious convictions on the rest of us???