In light of the Des Moines County Board of Supervisors discussing a proposed Title X clinic to replace the closed Burlington Planned Parenthood Tuesday, a group is organizing to show their support for the move.
Laura Blanchard, a member of the Southeast Iowa Young Progressives, said she expects to have a group present at the board's work session. Blanchard started a Change.org petition in preparation for the meeting, so she could present the supervisors with a number of people already supporting the move. On Friday, it had 301 signatures.
"People, especially women, want and need a safe, confidential, non-judgmental, non-faith-based place to go to and receive healthcare that's affordable," Blanchard said. "People say go to Great River (Medical Center) and all this stuff, but it's not always affordable, and they can't absorb everybody."
The board is considering a county-run replacement for the Burlington Planned Parenthood branch that closed in June. The clinic served 2,100 patients, including Blanchard. Des Moines County would run the clinic using the same federal Title X funding that Planned Parenthood uses.
Their facility would provide contraceptives, counseling, pregnancy testing, fertility testing, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, preventative education, gynecology, male and female physical checkups and other general family-planning services. The Burlington Planned Parenthood did not provide abortions, and neither would this clinic. Services would be provided on a sliding fee scale, so the poorest people can afford its services.
While presenting the proposal, Public Health Director Christa Poggemiller explained other health clinics are leaving a gap in coverage, especially for poor people. Blanchard argued the same in an interview Thursday.
"The services that are out there like Informed Choices, they do not have the scope of services that Planned Parenthood has and that this planned clinic will have," Blanchard said. "These other options exist, and we are still in a public health crisis."
The board is supposed to have a proposed budget for the clinic at its Tuesday meeting. Supervisors expressed some money concerns in their previous discussion, but their primary hesitation seems to be a more philosophical one. Supervisors are concerned state legislators are making political moves that put financial burden on counties like Des Moines County, and that by taking on the clinic they're letting local taxpayers take the fall.
To that, Blanchard suggested the opposite.
"Don't be the ones that continue to pass the buck on citizens' health," Blanchard said. "It puts a pit in my stomach to think about that happening."
Des Moines County has the second-highest rate of sexually transmitted infections in Iowa, according to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program. The program is affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.