Iowa’s congressional delegation split their votes along party lines as Democrats in the U.S. House passed legislation that would ensure nationwide access to contraception.
Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, said “people deserve the right to make decisions about when they want to have children” and access to birth control is threatened by recent signals from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Republican Congresswoman Ashley Hinson of Marion said the bill had provisions that were “too extreme.”
“It allowed for widespread use of abortion pills,” Hinson said this morning during a conference call with Iowa reporters. “It would violate conscience protections for health care providers. It could send taxpayer dollars to abortion providers as well.”
Hinson and a Republican congresswoman from South Carolina have proposed a bill that instead would guarantee women could buy birth control pills over the counter at a pharmacy.
“That’s something I hear from a lot of women, the want to go to their pharmacy and get that pill,” Hinson said. “Millions of American women safely take these drugs already, so I see our solution as a common sense policy, particularly for women in rural areas who sometimes have to go a significant distance, maybe sometimes up to an hour, to get even a doctor’s appointment, let alone going to the pharmacy.”
Republican Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa said as a state senator she introduced a bill to let women over the age of 18 buy oral contraceptives over-the-counter in Iowa, but Miller-Meeks says she opposed the bill Democrats’ proposed because it would require all health care providers “to administer contraceptives despite their moral or religious beliefs.” Republican Congressman Randy Feenstra of Hull also voted against the legislation.
The bill is not expected to come up for a vote in the evenly-divided U.S. Senate. Republican Senator Joni Ernst expressed her opposition during a speech on the Senate floor.
“This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Ernst said. “While the language touts access to family planning, in reality it’s likely a $5 billion gift to Planned Parenthood and other abortion-related providers.”
The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party said the Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation are undermining the right of Iowans to “decide for themselves if, when and with whom they want to have a family.”