Planned Parenthood first anniversary met with protest, celebration - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Planned Parenthood first anniversary met with protest, celebration

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Pro-life activists upping their efforts against the Planned Parenthood clinic in Dubuque as it celebrates a year in the community. The Dubuque health clinic opened August 21st of last year, with protestors already at its door.

The Dubuque Planned Parenthood offers referrals but does not perform abortions on site. Even so, opponents say its presence brings the option to the community, and they want it gone.

Dubuque County Right to Life claims that pro-life picketers have seen an increase of cars with Dubuque County license plates at Planned Parenthood clinics in other cities that do perform abortions. They blame that increase on referrals coming from the year-old Dubuque clinic.

While Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa celebrates with excitement its first year in Dubuque, Dubuque County Right to Life is launching a new plan of attack, in the form of a multi-media campaign. The campaign includes billboards, yard signs, newspaper and radio ads, and a new Web site.

"The goal of the campaign is to shut them down. Is to get Planned Parenthood out of Dubuque, plain and simple. They're not welcome. They don't need to be here. Everything that they provide is already here in Dubuque, and the abortion element is not welcome here in Dubuque," Steven Brody, Executive Director of Dubuque County Right to Life, said.

Planned Parenthood counters that its services, like free or reduced screenings and birth control and sex education, are needed and used.

"We're not in a fight. We're here to provide a service. Somebody else thinks that they're in a fight. We see women and men on a daily basis that need our help," Joe Lock, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa, said.

Right to Life says their efforts, like picketing the clinic daily are working, and that few people use the clinic. Since opening, Planned Parenthood says its seen around 700 patients in the Dubuque clinic. In the five county area, Planned Parenthood says it sees around 5,000 patients a year.

"I don't think there's any secret that our capacity exceeds our demand right now, but our demand is increasing at an increasing rate. Phones are ringing and people are coming in," Lock said.

Right to Life says it's not backing down, while clinic executives says they won't be driven out by those who disagree with their organization.

Right to Life says its new campaign is funded completely through donations and will last for about a year.

"It is going to be shock and awe throughout this area to inform and educate the community on the truth about Planned Parenthood," Brody said.

Planned Parenthood in Dubuque meantime is celebrating its one-year anniversary by offering free cervical cancer screenings and breast exams on September 9th.

Currently there are planned parenthood offices in 25 cities across the state. Some of those clinics do offer abortions. Again, Dubuque's office only offers referral services. Lock says they have no plans to offer any type of abortion in Dubuque.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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