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Iowa abortions continue to increase, reversing long decline

July 15, 2021 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The number of abortions performed in Iowa rose significantly in 2020, continuing a big jump that began in 2019 after a long downward trend, according to data released Monday.

Data released to legislative staff by the Iowa Department of Public Health shows Iowa had a 14% increase in abortions in 2020 following a 25% rise in 2019.

State Sen. Janet Petersen sent the information to the Des Moines Register and argued the increasing number of abortions was due to state efforts to limit birth control options. Petersen, a Democrat and abortion-rights supporter, said the increasing number of abortions reflect moves supported by Republican lawmakers to withdraw from a federally funded family planning program that helped thousands of people to get birth control and information on pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.


Planned Parenthood was barred from participation and the state implemented a new program that served fewer people.

“I once again think that when they take family planning services away from Iowans and expect abortion numbers to drop, they’re just kidding themselves,” she said.

Maggie DeWitte, executive director of the group Iowans for Life, argued there is plenty of access to birth control in Iowa and that abortion increases were due to an Iowa Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that declared the state constitution protects abortions as a fundamental right.

“When you create a fundamental right, that means you can’t regulate abortions in any way,” she said. “Our hands are tied.”

The data showed there were 4,058 abortions performed in 2020, an increase from 3,566 performed in 2019. The increases came after a 56% drop in abortions from 2008 to 2018.

Pat Garrett, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, declined to comment on the abortion increase.