A conservative Christian organization that hosted 10 Republican presidential candidates last month at an event in Ames is turning a new lobbying effort toward Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.
“To encourage Governor Branstad to defund Planned Parenthood and, if anything, he needs to launch an investigation of Planned Parenthood and be willing to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law when it’s proved that there’s wrongdoing,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader.
Vander Plaats ran against Branstad in 2010 in the Republican Primary and Vander Plaats points to a statement Branstad made during a primary debate. Branstad said five years ago that state taxpayer funding “for groups like Planned Parenthood” should end.
“I think Governor Branstad should follow Governor Jindal’s lead in Louisiana, defund (Planned Parenthood) immediately, investigate and prosecute,” Vander Plaats says.
No state or federal tax dollars are being spent on abortions performed at Planned Parenthood, but the organization does get government funding for reproductive health exams, sexually-transmitted disease tests and birth control for low-income patients. Renewed efforts to end taxpayer funding of those Planned Parenthood services comes after an anti-abortion group released undercover videos this summer and has accused Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood denies the charge. The Family Leader has started an on-line petition drive, plus Vander Plaats and others are planning a rally at the statehouse on August 15 to protest those videos.
“We’re going to stand up for the sanctity of human life,” Vander Plaats says, “and hopefully we end the subsidies to such a dark organization.”
A spokesman for Governor Branstad says the governor is “appalled” by the undercover videos and has directed officials in the Iowa Department of Public Health to ensure the state’s “Family Planning Block Grant…does not and will not ever fund abortions or operations related to abortion procedures.”
Planned Parenthood’s national president says the American people have “zero appetite” for political efforts to “deny health care, including birth control,” to millions of American women. According to the 2014 annual report from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, nearly half of its patients were getting birth control. Abortion accounted for two percent of patient services.