Iowa’s Republican lawmakers are a step closer to defunding the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics. A bill to instead fund organizations that don’t provide abortion services passed out of a state senate subcommittee today.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland supporters crammed into the meeting to voice their objection to the legislation. The hallway behind the senate chamber held those who couldn’t fit into the hearing room, with their chants of "Women's Rights! Women's Rights" carrying into the room.
Despite this opposition, the legislation was recommended for passage by two of the three subcommittee members.
Limiting abortion access by taking away Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood has been a priority of state and national Republicans for years. Now that the GOP controls both chambers of the Iowa state legislature, the bill appears likely to reach the governor’s desk.
Planned Parenthood says it has too many patients and its services are too specialized for other organizations to adequately provide reproductive and sexual healthcare services.
"Iowans will undoubtedly start to see teen pregnancy rates rise," warns Planned Parenthood's Suzanna de Baca. "Without a trusted provider they can rely on for care, teens will face the dilemma of trying to find birth control in their home towns."
It was pointed out several times during the hearing that no state or federal dollars go to abortion services. Planned Parenthood says it is required by law to put all Medicaid family planning dollars towards patient care, and not clinic overhead.
However supporters of the legislation say funding Planned Parenthood still indirectly supports abortion access.
"The public should not be force to participate in the violence of abortion, and it's routine destruction of innocent human life," say Joan Thompson, an associate of research and outreach for the Iowa Catholic Conference.
The legislation will next be considered by the entire Senate Judiciary Committee.