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Religious Restrictions Limits Contraception in Poorest Part of Peoria

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Tanya Koonce
/
Peoria Public Radio

The Illinois ACLU is calling on Peoria’s federally-funded health clinics to remove limitations on contraception and women’s health care services.

 

The Heartland Health Clinics on Garden Street and Armstrong Avenue, both in the 61605 zip code, are located in OSF-owned property. They lease agreement specified they follow the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives.   

Jenna Prochaska is an attorney for the ACLU. She says the community deserves providers that serve all health care needs regardless of religious affiliations of the clinics or community partners. Prochaska says that’s even more important in zip code identified as one of the most socio-economically challenged in the country.    

Prochaska says limiting birth control has real public health impacts including high teen birth and STD rates as well as unwanted pregnancies. “Talking about those issues is a really important step and expressing to Heartland that the community sees the need and hopes that they will do what they can and what’s in their power to make the necessary changes.”

Heartland says contraceptive services have always been available Monday through Friday during business hours at the East Bluff, Carver and Human Service Center locations.

 

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The ACLU says their investigations have found those seeking contraceptives from the Garden Street or Armstrong Avenue locations are referred to the East Bluff. Further, the Civil Liberties Union found the Heartland Clinic on the East Bluff only offers contraceptives on Thursdays, from 1-3 p.m.    

The ACLU asserts if Heartland is providing more expanded services in this area they need to do a better job communicating it with their patients. The ACLU is also asking Heartland to evaluate all practices to ensure women’s health care is being provided as completely as possible.

A statement from Heartland says it’s also began conversations with OSF to purchase the Garden Street property. That would mean contraceptive services would be provided in at least one 61605 zip code health clinic.