Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Blouin says the state should spend more money to ensure every pregnant woman in Iowa gets medical care in the months before and after her baby is born. “Some woman have private insurance. Others utilitize Medicaid. Still others have no coverage at all. They do not get appropriate care and too often a chain reaction of illness and disadvantage begins,” Blouin says. “We can change this.”
Blouin cites March of Dimes statistics which indicate women who have regular pre-natal care have healthier babies, are less likely to deliver prematurely and are less likely to have other problems related to their pregnancy. Such care saves money in the long-run, according to Blouin. If he becomes governor, Blouin would also designate a person on his staff to monitor women’s and children’s health issues and he’d ask that person to search for ways to get more federal money to cover the health care expenses of Iowa’s poorest women.
As the brother of three sisters and the father of two daughters, Blouin says he has “seen the health care needs of women (his) entire life.” “Women experience a unique set of health care issues, yet the health care system is traditionally focused mostly on the health care needs and problems of men,” Blouin says. Blouin proposes doubling state spending on programs that help people stop smoking. Blouin says lung cancer is the leading cause of death in Iowa women. Blouin says the state of Iowa has a “moral responsibility” to protect the health of women.
Patty Judge, one of Blouin’s competitors for the Democratic party’s nomination for governor, says it appears Blouin is trying to divert attention from his opposition to abortion. “I think we all agree that pregnant women need prenatal care…but I think that the basic issue here is that women do have the right to make their own decisions about their health care,” Judge says. And Judge says that means the right to decide to have an abortion.
Blouin denies the policy statements he issued Thursday are an attempt to divert attention from his opposition to abortion. Blouin has promised not to sign any legislation that would restrict or expand access to abortion in Iowa. “My position is pretty clear. I think it’s acceptable to the vast majority of folks,” Blouin says.
Judge disagrees. “The message he’s giving about his position on women’s issues is very mixed and very unclear,” Judge says. “Does he believe that women have the right to make their own decisions about health care issues or do they not?” Judge says she’s still waiting for Blouin to give a “clear answer” to that question. In a campaign position paper, Blouin says the following: “I believe from the very core of my being in a consistent culture of life — the dignity of all life. It is at the very heart of who I am as a person and how I try to live all facets of my life. In this context, I cannot lead parallel lives, one spiritual and one secular. To ask me to do otherwise is to ask me to breathe without lungs. I also understand that our laws must be acceptable and enforceable within society. Knowing this, I choose to concentrate my efforts on where I can make a difference.”