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Statement from Erin Davisson-Ripey, Planned Parenthood North Central States Iowa Executive Director, on New STI data

Sexually Transmitted Infections increased 21% since 2017, according to data recently released by the Iowa Department of Health

“The Iowa Department of Health recently released data showing that the incidence of dangerous sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Iowa continues to increase since lawmakers excluded Planned Parenthood from the state’s family planning program.

It’s clear what’s going on here.  It’s not a coincidence, and it’s not pretty.

In 2017, Republican state legislators defunded Planned Parenthood, forcing the closure of four health centers in Iowa. Since then, we have seen sexually transmitted infections increase by an alarming 21 percent.  Prior to 2017, STIs — chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis — were increasing at an average rate of about 6 percent per year. 

When state lawmakers stopped funding care for Planned Parenthood patients, they attempted to shift STI testing and treating to other organizations that did not have the capacity to meet the public health needs.  The new data prove that strategy continues to fail Iowans badly. 

STIs are serious.  When Iowans don’t get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections, it leads to suffering and death for both adults and infants, such as from cervical cancer, birth complications, infertility, blindness, deafness, bone deformity, meningitis, and many other life-threatening conditions. 

These disturbing new findings need to serve as a wake-up call for Iowa’s elected officials.  Since Republicans gained control of all three chambers of government, Iowans continue to see declining access to reproductive health care and threats to our reproductive freedom. The evidence is clear — playing partisan political games with reproductive health care is hurting Iowans and creating a public health crisis.

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