By Crystal Defatte
About 80 people attended a vigil mourning the closing of the Bettendorf, IA Planned Parenthood clinic on Tuesday. The clinic’s closure stems from the state discontinuing Iowa’s family-planning network waiver, which allowed people who don’t qualify for Medicaid to receive coverage for services that include contraception, pelvic exams, pap tests and sexually transmitted diseases. Now, money from the state-funded program cannot go to abortion providers. According to center manager Angela Rodriguez-Finch, the clinic served about 4,000 women a year. She expressed her fears about the closing by saying “This attack on women and limiting access to reproductive care is frightening. It’s a slippery slope.” The rally included other statements by clinic staff, Representatives Phyllis Thede and Monica Kurth, and former patients of the clinic. One woman spoke of learning about her cancer after a screening at the clinic, others spoke of relying on the clinic for their contraceptive needs, and two women spoke about their abortion stories.
Those in attendance were fed and given free t-shirts that say “I support Planned Parenthood”. After the vigil, attendees were given an opportunity to sign up to give free rides to those who would otherwise be unable to go to the Iowa City clinic and to also sign ribbons of pink paper which will be made into a chain and will be sent to Governor Kim Reynolds.
About 20 people gathered across the street from the clinic in protest of the vigil. One protester, Colleen Goebel, of Davenport, said Planned Parenthood supporters will talk about cancer screenings and pap smears, “but those services are available in numerous other facilities in this community. But their prime motivation is to provide abortions here. That’s their cash cow.”
While three other clinics throughout Iowa will be closing on June 30th, the Bettendorf facility will continue to provide some limited telemedicine abortion services after that date until the building is sold, said Susan Allen, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s marketing and communications director.