All but one Democrat in the Iowa Senate today voted to block a bid by Republican legislators to “defund” Planned Parenthood.
Under current law, Medicaid patients in Iowa can go to Planned Parenthood for contraceptives or reproductive health exams. Earlier this week House Republicans voted to ban all state tax dollars from being spent at Planned Parenthood, proposing instead that Medicaid patients go to more than 200 “federally-qualified” health care providers for family planning services.
“We are talking about more choices for more women,” said Republican Senator Amy Sinclair of Allerton, an advocate of the House GOP’s plan.
No state tax dollars are being spent on abortion services at Planned Parenthood, but Republican Senator Ken Rozenboom of Oskaloosa says many Iowans “strenuously object” to sending any tax dollars to the organization.
“It’s about fundamental, conscientious objection to a practice that troubles millions of people,” Rozenboom said.
Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, spoke out against the GOP effort to “defund” Planned Parenthood.
“Family planning saves taxpayers money and adopting this…could actually cause more unintended pregnancies,” Ragan said.
Ragan acknowledged the “passion” this debate has generated.
“We’ve talked about this issue before and I understand everyone has feelings about this and…there’s probably 50 different feelings about it in this chamber,” Ragan said.
At the conclusion of debate, 25 Democratic senators voted to stick with the status quo and allow state funding of non-abortion services at Planned Parenthood. All 24 Republicans, plus Democratic Senator Joe Seng of Davenport voted to bar all tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood. That means the House GOP plan failed on a tie vote today in the Senate.
Planned Parenthood officials say about 30,000 Iowa Medicaid patients get non-abortion services at Planned Parenthood each year. The State of Iowa pays 10 percent of those bills. The federal government covers the rest.