September 16, 2014

Push to “defund” Planned Parenthood in Iowa

A group of Republicans in the Iowa House plans to push for new restrictions that would forbid any state tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood, similar to new laws in states like Texas, Indiana and Kansas.

Chuck Hurley — of the Christian conservative group known as “The Family Leader” — says under current state policy Planned Parenthood does not get state money for abortions, but it does get at least $6 million in state tax dollars as reimbursement for providing birth control and reproductive health exams to poor women.

“This amendment would move that money away from people like Planned Parenthood and to comprehensive, full-service health care providers,” Hurley says. “It would not cut any funds. It would redirect them to those that can provide more and better services to needy women.”

Legislators and governors in nine other states have enacted laws which forbid any state tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood. Hurley’s group has sent a message to its members about the prospect of doing the same in Iowa.

“We are urging Iowans who care about using tax dollars wisely to contact their House members right away,” Hurley says.

This policy debate is likely to occur when the House considers a massive bill that outlines spending for the Iowa Department of Human Services. Back in the 2010 campaign, when Terry Branstad was seeking a fifth term as governor, Branstad mentioned during a debate that he supported a policy that would “defund” Planned Parenthood.

“Unfortunately, it did not happen in 2011. It’s overdue,” Hurley says. “Now, nine other states — at least — have done something similar and it’s Iowa’s turn.”

While the proposal is likely to pass the Iowa House where Republicans outnumber Democrats 60 to 40, it’s unlikely to survive the Democratically-led Iowa Senate.

Planned Parenthood officials say theirs is the only organization most poor women can turn to for things like birth control, tests for sexually-transmitted diseases and cancer screenings as well as prenatal care. Planned Parenthood’s national president recently told an audience at Princeton University that her organization does “more every single day to prevent unintended pregnancies than…all these people carrying these picket and right-to-life signs.”