Iowa Lawmakers Pass Budget Bill That Defunds Planned Parenthood

Photo Credit: Fibonaci Blue

DES MOINES, Iowa — Lawmakers in Iowa have passed a budget bill that would defund the abortion and contraception giant Planned Parenthood.

House File 653 directs the state to discontinue utilizing federal funds for Medicaid, and instead create its own family planning fund, estimated at $3.1 million.

“The Department of Human Services shall discontinue the Medicaid family planning network waiver effective July 1, 2017, and shall instead establish a state family planning services program,” it reads in part. “Distribution of family planning services program funds shall not be made to any entity that performs abortions or that maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed.”

The rules do not apply to miscarriages or cases when the woman’s life is deemed to be in danger.

Pro-life organizations have been supportive of the move, and refute the assertion that reallocating funds to community health centers that don’t perform abortions will leave women without a place to get help.

“The bill will not leave women unable to find quality health care and in fact will offer them more choices,” said Iowans for Life in a recent email to supporters. “As these mothers know, all women, including low income women, deserve a health care center that offers [services for] all their health care needs.”

But Democrats in the legislature decried the measure, opining that Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be excluded from Medicaid because low-income women consequently won’t be able to use the organization as their provider if desired.

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“Patients, not politicians, should decide how and where they receive their medical care,” said Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames. “Stop playing politics with the health of Iowans, stop the ideological train and fund the programs that are important to Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens.”

The bill passed the House 55-42 on Wednesday, and then went on to be approved in the Senate 28-21 on Thursday. It now heads to desk of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who has expressed support for the measure.

As previously reported, Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, also recently introduced Senate File 2, which has identical language as House File 653. The bill passed the Senate in February following two hours of debate.

“We are not closing clinics, nor prohibiting their legal activity. Women will not go without exams or care or screening. They will just receive those services where they live,” Sinclair said. “This change will allow Iowa to restrict government funding to family planning services away from organizations that perform abortions that are not medically necessary.”

According to the organization’s annual report, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions nationwide during the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The figure accounts for at least one-third of all abortions nationwide, when compared to statistics released in November by the Centers for Disease Control.

As it has been in previous years, Planned Parenthood’s largest focus in 2014-2015 was sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), as it tested and/or treated over four million people for sexual ailments, with over 3.5 million tests and 32 thousand men and women being treated for ailments contracted through sexual activity.

Over 2.9 million people were provided with contraceptives or other forms of birth control in 2014—from temporary to permanent, including over 900 thousand emergency contraception kits. The figure is down from 3.5 million the year before, and 3.7 million in 2012.

Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms as it is not licensed to operate mammogram machines, and its annual report outlined that fewer than 700,000 women received services surrounding cervical cancer screenings (pap smears for women who have been sexually active), equating to just seven percent of its services. STD testing and contraceptives accounted for 76 percent of its services, as opposed to women’s health or post and pre-natal services.

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