If and when Iowa’s fetal heartbeat abortion ban takes effect, Quad-City patients seeking abortion services will need to travel about 90 miles to one of two family planning facilities in Illinois.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois operates clinics in Peoria to the south and Ottawa to the east, each of which offers medication, or non-surgical, abortions to patients up to nine weeks after the start of their last menstrual period.
Planned Parenthood's Aurora Health Center, about 130 miles east of the Quad-Cities, is the closest site that performs in-clinic, or surgical, abortions during the second trimester. Patients may undergo a surgical abortion up to 19 weeks and six days after the start of their last menstrual period.
Julie Lynn, manager of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, which runs 17 clinics across the state, said the organization does not have plans to open a new location closer to the Quad-Cities.
The Iowa legislation, which does not go into effect until July 1, bans abortions once a fetus’ heartbeat can be detected. That typically happens around the six-week mark, often before the woman knows she is pregnant.
Under this law, the University of Iowa will not be able to provide comprehensive family planning training for its obstetrics and gynecology residents, which will jeopardize its accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
Josh Lehman, senior communications director for the Iowa Board of Regents, said the OB-GYN residency program is required to provide “all forms of contraception and training in the provision of abortion, if the student so chooses.”
“Limitations on abortions in Iowa would eliminate the ability to meet training requirements,” he said.
Earlier this month, Dr. Marygrace Elson, director of the OB-GYN residency program, told the Iowa City Press-Citizen the university could establish a clinic in Illinois, where residents could complete their family planning rotations.
On Tuesday, however, Lehman said, "There are no plans to do that at this time."
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Iowa City currently conducts medication abortions and in-clinic abortions for patients up to 21 weeks and six days after the start of their last menstrual period, according to the organization's website. The Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City also offers both services. The former Planned Parenthood clinic in Bettendorf, which closed in December, only provided medication abortions.