By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s Bettendorf clinic is now officially closed.
The center where family planning and abortions took place saw clients for the last time Dec. 29. The center opened in 1999 and began providing abortions in 2000.
A Planned Parenthood press release stated that the closure came about because the Iowa Legislature stopped funding for family planning services effective June 30, 2017. Specifically, the state ended funding for clinics where abortions are performed. That led to closure of Planned Parenthood clinics in Sioux City, Keokuk and Burlington and Bettendorf. The Bettendorf clinic ended family planning services June 30, but continued offering medication abortions until closing.
“Gov. Kim Reynolds and anti-woman lawmakers forced us to make some extremely difficult changes this year in order to continue providing care for as many patients as possible. It is as devastating today as it was last spring to announce that we are no longer able to serve our patients in Bettendorf,” Suzanna de Baca, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland president/CEO, said in a statement.
Since July, patients choosing to receive care from Planned Parenthood had to travel more than 60 miles to the nearest remaining location in Iowa City, she noted. “While opponents attempted to highlight other area providers who could absorb Planned Parenthood patients, many women were left with nowhere to go for care…. While politicians may have abandoned women in Iowa, Planned Parenthood never will. We will persist in providing high quality reproductive and sexual health care — no matter what.”
Vicki Tyler, executive director of the pro-life Women’s Choice Center, said the center “is thrilled that Planned Parenthood has closed their doors. It is the fruit of so many prayer warriors that have prayed unceasing since (the Bettendorf clinic) opened…. Our doors are open to any woman in a crisis pregnancy who needs help. All of our services are free and we are here to offer God’s love and compassion.”
The pro-life center, located across the street from the Bettendorf clinic, provides services such as pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, referrals and counseling. A mobile unit brings services to other Quad-City area clients who cannot get to the pro-life center.
Jeanne Wonio was one of the original Helpers of God’s Precious Infants who began a prayer effort when it was announced in 1995 that Planned Parenthood wanted to come to the area. “I brought in Msgr. Phillip Reilly (founder of the Helpers) to help us organize and use his peaceful, prayerful presence method. His style helped us get the Catholics involved in prayer,” she said.
“Abortion is a business that cares little about its clients. Msgr. Reilly said abortion clinics are modern-day Calvary(s). We are thankful that the Iowa Legislature stopped family planning funds from going to abortion clinics. We want our community to be a place where mothers and their unborn babies are welcomed and supported. We continue to pray for conversion of heart for all who work to promote abortion and for those who support the culture of death,” Wonio said.