Iowa Senate votes to reallocate state funding away from abortion providers

By Dave Andrusko

Iowa state Senator Amy Sinclair

Iowa state Senator Amy Sinclair

The Iowa Senate, voting strictly along party lines, Thursday voted in favor of SF 2. The bill would reallocate state taxpayer funding away from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to federally qualified health centers and family planning organizations who do not provide abortion services. As state Senator Amy Sinclair, the bill’s floor manager , explained, “This bill deals specifically with the Medicaid Family Planning Network waiver, which utilizes state tax dollars.”

According to the Des Moines Register

Backers of the Senate bill say there are 221 clinics in Iowa that can provide similar care, and they contend rural Iowans will be better served with more accessible services. According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, more than 800 providers served the state’s family planning program in 2016, including hospitals, medical centers, clinics, gynecologists, primary care physicians, advanced registered nurse practitioners, pharmacies and others. All of these providers will be eligible for the new program if they do not provide abortions, DHS officials said.

The 30-20 vote came after two hours and 20 minutes of what reporter William Petroski described as “heated debate.” Sen. Sinclair urged passage. “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.”

Opponents were scathing in their criticism, mixing their harsh remarks with lavish praise for Planned Parenthood.

According to Petroski Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said, “We have a high quality provider that patients like and they want to continue to have access to those services like anyone would.” He added, “This bill says ‘no’ to these women. The real purpose of this bill is to punish Planned Parenthood because they provide services to women seeking legal access to an abortion.”

It is widely anticipated that the Iowa House will likewise vote in favor of reallocating funds. Gov. Terry Branstad has already promised to sign it.

Paraphrasing House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, Petroski wrote that the House could simply take up the Senate’s language or, as it has before, include language in their end-of-the year budget proposals.

In the past similar measures have passed the House but have been derailed in the Senate, controlled by Democrats. But as NRL News Today wrote following the November elections, due to the work of Iowa Right to Life’s PAC, pro-lifers won 17 of 19 state Senate races and 42 of 62 state House races! Pro-life Republicans now control both houses and the governor’s office.

As Petrowski explained

Many Iowa Republicans seeking election last fall promised voters they would halt public funding to Planned Parenthood if they were elected. GOP lawmakers have repeatedly tried in recent years to block the appropriation of money for Planned Parenthood, but they had been stymied by Senate Democrats who held a majority. That political barrier was removed in November when Republicans won control of the Senate by ousting six Democratic incumbents while retaining a majority in the Iowa House.