Number of Iowa abortions climb after plummeting for decades

The number of women having abortions in Iowa climbed last year, a turnaround that critics blame on the state’s controversial decision to withdraw from a federally funded family planning program.

After decades of plummeting abortion numbers, the state last year recorded 3,566 abortions, which is 25% more than the previous year, according to preliminary data from Iowa Department of Public Health.

The Des Moines Register reported last year’s increase came after the number of Iowa abortions dropped 56% from 2008 to 2018.

In 2017, Iowa decided to withdraw from a federally funded family planning program that had helped thousands of Iowans get birth control supplies and information on pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The program was replaced with a state-run version, which barred Planned Parenthood’s participation and has served less than a quarter as many Iowans.

“The takeaway is that when accessibility to birth control declines, the number of unplanned pregnancies increases,” said Mark Anderson, chairman of the Iowa Council on Human Services.

Human services council members had objected in 2017 to Iowa’s withdrawal from the family planning program that was supported by $3 million in federal money annually. It was replaced by a state-financed program that excluded participation by providers offered abortion services.


This story has been corrected to show that the number of abortions increased by 25% from 2018 to 2019, not 8%.