Opinion | Iowa needs to invest in sexual and reproductive health care

With national HIV testing day coming up, it’s important Iowa invests in sexual and reproductive health care.


Jenna Galligan

Planned Parenthood in seen on Friday, May 8, 2020.

Yassie Buchanan, Opinions Columnist

With national HIV testing day approaching, Iowa needs to invest in the reproductive and sexual healthcare of Iowans. Over time, Iowa’s government has chipped into the reproductive rights of its citizens. This started with $3 million dollar cuts to funding for Planned Parenthoods, and now the roll out of anti-abortion laws.

Although reproductive health care clinics tend to get attacked for providing abortion services, their work does much more than this. Education, birth control, and STD testing are a significant part of reproductive health clinics focus.

There are a number of health outcomes that suffer from lack of access to reproductive health care.

Accessibility to prenatal care and education regarding pregnancy are essential in reducing the large disparity between white and Black Iowans infant mortality rate.   In Iowa, there are large disparities in infant mortality rates between white and Black populations. The infant mortality rate for white Iowans is 4.9 percent, and for Black Iowans it’s over double at 11.4 percent.

Additionally, the demand for abortions in Iowa is higher than the supply. After cuts to funding for family planning, abortions went up by 25 percent. Yet, according to the most recent data, there are only 9 facilities in Iowa that offer abortions. This is a stark decrease from the 13 there were in 2014.

Despite there being a clear need for abortion resources, the majority of Iowans are without available access. Removing Iowans access to safe abortion services and reproductive health care options does not decrease the need for these services, but it does lessen the availability to have a safe abortion.

This is incredibly troubling considering, unsafe abortions are the third-leading cause of maternal deaths in the world.

Sexual health is incredibly important as well, which is why supporting clinics like the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City is essential. The Emma Goldman Clinic provides a wide range of services to the community.

Executive director Francine Thompson said The Emma Goldman clinic was a pioneer in the Iowa City community being one of first outpatient clinics in Iowa to provide HIV testing. While they do offer services for testing, they have less access to Prep and Pep, a medicine that helps prevent those at high risk from getting HIV.

“The Emma Goldman offers a full range of comprehensive reproductive and wellness services including first and second trimester abortion. We provide contraceptive care, wellness exams and sports physicals, STI testing and treatment and some routine wellness screenings,”  Thompson said.

Government cuts to family planning and abortions are incredibly dangerous to clinics like the Emma Goldman Clinic that are working hard to serve the community on a wide range of services within reproductive and sexual health.

With all the changes in funding and laws regarding reproductive health care, studies have shown 33 percent of Iowan’s pregnancies are wanted at a later time or unwanted. This data aligns with the decrease in people using female contraceptives due to decreases in access.

The previous cuts to funding of Planned Parenthoods and the continuous threats to abortion rights in Iowa don’t correlate to better health outcomes. Instead, they disenfranchise Iowans from being able to make informed decisions about their body and wellbeing.

“People deserve quality, comprehensive reproductive health care that is accessible and safe”,
Thurman said. “Individuals are capable of making decisions about their families without interference from politicians.”

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.