The Iowa Legislature's decision to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood is limiting women's health care choices, Democratic candidate for governor Todd Prichard said in a stop in Davenport on Friday.

Prichard, a state representative from Charles City, made his first campaign appearance in the Quad-Cities since announcing his candidacy earlier this week.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced Thursday it is closing four of its 12 clinics around the state, including the one in Bettendorf. Planned Parenthood said the reason is the state's decision to change its family planning program, which had been funded by Medicaid. Now, state funds will be used, allowing the state to prohibit funding from going to Planned Parenthood.

Prichard said the move is a step in the wrong direction. "It’s a shame that we’re taking away health care opportunities and access for women, and it’s just not the right direction. If we care about taking care of people, we would fund Planned Parenthood and keep these types of services available," he said after a meeting at the United Food and Commercial Workers union hall on West Central Park Avenue.

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A few weeks ago, Prichard said that, if elected, he would seek to reverse the legislature's decision to significantly reduce collective bargaining rights for public workers, but, in this case, he said he believes it would take an act of the legislature to reverse the decision on how to fund family planning programs in the state. Republicans control both the House and Senate.

Also Friday, Prichard said the state needs to shift its economic development efforts so that growth can help everybody around the state. He also criticized Gov. Terry Branstad's decision to turn management of the state's Medicaid program over to private companies. Prichard said, too, that Iowa needs to address what he called a crisis in mental health care.

Five Democrats have already announced they will seek the party's 2018 gubernatorial nomination. A few others also are considering it.

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