Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced Thursday that is it closing four of its clinics in Iowa, including the one in Bettendorf.
Suzanna de Baca, president and chief executive of the organization, said the closures are directly attributable to the budget bill signed last week by Gov. Terry Branstad, which change the state's family planning network. The legislation gives up federal Medicaid funding for the network and replaces it with state money, thereby allowing the state to prohibit funding from going to Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood said the change will mean the loss of about $2 million. It said closing the four clinics will affect 14,676 people who had received services there over the past three years.
"The only reason these patients are losing their health care provider, the only reason these closings are happening and the only reason that longtime valued employees at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland are subsequently losing their jobs is the budget Gov. Branstad signed into law last week that defunded Planned Parenthood of the Heartland," de Baca said.
About 30 employees will be affected. The other centers that are closing are in Keokuk, Sioux City and Burlington.
Planned Parenthood said Keokuk, Sioux City and Burlington will close on June 30. However, abortion services will continue to be provided in Bettendorf past that date, de Baca said, because of staffing issues that weren't applicable to the other clinics. She wasn't specific how long that would continue to be the case but said it would probably be "a matter of months."
Planned Parenthood's news release on the closures said that abortion services in Bettendorf would be offered until its building there sold.
A number of factors went into choosing which of its clinics would close, de Baca said, including needs in a community, support and opposition there, location of donors, patient trends and financial concerns.
"Ultimately, we had to make very difficult decisions," she said.
The news was cheered Thursday by abortion opponents.
Luana Stoltenberg, who was a prominent early opponent of the clinic here, said she was elated. "I’m delighted and elated. It’s been a prayer for many, many years," said Stoltenberg, of Davenport.
Rep. Phyllis Thede, D-Bettendorf, who opposed plans in the legislature to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, said politicians were making health care decisions for women and families.
"Today's terrible news means nearly 4,000 women in the Quad Cities will lose access to critical health care services like cancer screenings and birth control," she said.
"For many Iowans, Planned Parenthood is the only access they have to health care services and forcing these clinics to close will only mean families will have less access to basic medical services," said Dave Loebsack D-Iowa, who's district includes three of the four clinics that are closing.
The Bettendorf clinic, which is located on Tech Drive, opened in 1999 after a five-year fight that stretched from contentious City Hall debates in Davenport and Bettendorf to legal action in federal court.
Advocates on both sides of the issue marshaled resources and demonstrated.
A federal judge's ruling, in 1998, that the City of Bettendorf violated Planned Parenthood's constitutional rights by denying a site plan for the clinic paved the way for the clinic's opening.
Aspects of the long-running controversy drew national attention, and in 2002 opponents of the clinic opened their own facility, the Women's Choice Center, across the street on Happy Joe Drive.
Thursday's announcement means that Planned Parenthood will now have eight clinics in the state. It vowed to continue to provide services at those locations and to "expand our service offerings." The organization also vowed to hold lawmakers, Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds accountable. On Twitter, Planned Parenthood said they would hold them responsible "for the hurt they have caused, the futures they have damaged."
Ben Hammes, a spokesman for the governor's office, said: “We are proud of the efforts of the legislature approving more than $3.2 million for women’s health care clinics that do not perform abortions." He said there are a significant amount of resources in the state to provide family planning services.