Nov 16, 2022 - News

Sexually transmitted diseases rise where abortion clinics closed in Iowa

chart showing std increase

Clinic-reported gonorrhea cases per 100,000 people from 2010 to 2019 via JAMA Network

Sexually transmitted diseases and infections rose in four counties after a 2017 Iowa law forced abortion clinics there to close, according to a new research paper published in JAMA Network.

Driving the news: Defunding abortion clinics in Iowa resulted in a reduction of STD and STI services being available, possibly contributing to increased infections, the report says.

Of note: The lead author of the paper, Megan Srinivas, is a Democrat who recently won an Iowa House seat representing Des Moines.

Flashback: In 2017, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced it was closing clinics in Bettendorf, Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City after the Iowa Legislature passed a bill that blocked public money from going to abortion providers, the Register reported.

  • Those clinics combined saw more than 14,600 patients over a three-year period.

State of play: The study examined chlamydia and gonorrhea cases between Iowa counties that did and didn't close their clinics.

  • While there was an increase in infections statewide over that time period, gonorrhea rates doubled post-closures in the four counties.

The bottom line: Beyond clinic closures, a variety of factors have led to a surge in STD and STI rates nationwide, including decreased condom usage and increased needle sharing during the opioid crisis.


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