Christian conservatives have been calling on state officials to “defund” Planned Parenthood, but the top Republican in the legislature is suggesting there will not be a showdown over state funding of Planned Parenthood services for 30,000 low-income Iowans.
“I anticipate that we will do similar language that we did last year,” says Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake who is the new speaker of the Iowa House.
Under current policy, no state tax dollars are used to pay for abortions, but some state funds go to Planned Parenthood to cover the costs of other services for low income Iowans like cancer screenings and birth control.
“The focus is the dollars on women’s health services as opposed to abortion services,” Upmeyer says. “We just don’t think the taxpayers want to pay for abortions, so we want to set it up that they don’t need to. The governor, I believe, is supporting that same language. We appreciate that he is taking that position.”
Governor Terry Branstad says state spending on non-abortion services at Planned Parenthood for low-income patients is required under federal Medicaid contracts and the federal government is suing other states that have tried to “defund” Planned Parenthood. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says legislators found “common ground” last year on the issue and Upmeyer’s comments suggest a repeat this year.
“If you take away women’s access to contraceptives and cancer screenings and those kinds of things across the state of Iowa, I actually think you wind up with more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions when it’s all said and done,” Gronstal says.
Gronstal and Upmeyer made their comments during taping of IPTV’s “Iowa Press” program which will air tonight at 7:30.
Five years ago Planned Parenthood critics in the legislature tried to cut off all state funding for the organization, but were unsuccessful. This summer secretly-recorded videos were released of Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue donations. The videos prompted The Family Leader, a Christian conservative group, to run ads criticizing Governor Branstad for failing to cut off all state funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit yesterday against the organization that recorded the undercover videos. None of the videos were recorded in Iowa.