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Abortions Decline in Iowa, but Not for Low-Income Women

June 8, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa - Nearly half of the abortions performed in the United States in 2008 were for women at or below the poverty line, and experts believe the main reason is a lack of access to birth control.

In rural Iowa, says Penny Dickey, chief operations officer for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, access to family planning is particularly hard for low-income women who can't afford to drive long distances for medical services.

"Access is a huge key. Contraceptive access is something that, if we could improve access, we could help decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies."

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has a program called "c-mail" to help Iowa women meet this need, Dickey says. Clients can have an annual exam performed at any Heartland health center in Iowa, and then their monthly birth-control prescription is mailed to their home.

Avoiding unplanned pregnancies saves taxpayers money, Dickey says.

"For every $1 that's invested in reducing unintended pregnancies, the state saves $4 in care that they may have to invest afterwards, for an unplanned pregnancy."

The Iowa Family Planning Network also helps offset the costs of care for women who can't afford birth control by providing contraceptives free or at reduced cost to those who qualify.

The number of abortions performed in the United States dropped by 8 percent between 2000 and 2008 - but jumped 18 percent among poor women, statistics show.

For more information on Planned Parenthood programs or to schedule appointments, call toll-free 877-811-7526.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA