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Republican Lawmakers Approve Ban On Sex Ed Funding For Planned Parenthood

John Pemble
IPR file
The bill says organizations that provide abortions will not be eligible to apply for two specific sex education grants.

This post was updated Friday, May 3, 2019, at 5:32 p.m.

In the final days of the legislative session, Republicans at the Iowa Capitol moved to block Planned Parenthood from getting government grants to provide sex education programs in the state.

“Sexual health education is what gives young people the skills to have the healthiest lives they can have,” said Planned Parenthood Executive State Director Erin Davison-Rippey. “And by defunding Planned Parenthood, you’re removing one of the most significant providers of sex education from the system.”

Planned Parenthood cites their sex education programs as a driver of declining teen pregnancy rates in Iowa.

Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, a staunch opponent of abortion rights, said excluding Planned Parenthood will not restrict access to quality sex education.

“That organization has a different goal in mind,” Salmon told Radio Iowa. “Their business interests are totally the opposite of the state’s interests.”

The policy language does not specifically mention Planned Parenthood—it says organizations that provide abortions will not be eligible to apply for two specific sex education grants. But the bill exempts at least one other organization that does provide abortions from the ban.

Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, said Republicans should not be targeting Planned Parenthood because the organization has helped prevent unintended pregnancies.

“Every last person in this Senate wants to see abortions reduced,” Mathis said. “How do you think abortions are reduced? Birth control, sex education—that’s how they are reduced.”

This change was added to a budget bill on Friday, the day before lawmakers left Des Moines for the year. This is not the first time lawmakers have attempted to pass this legislation.

The Iowa Senate passed the health and human services budget bill Friday 31-19 with this policy included, with Sen. Tom Greene, R-Burlington, joining the Democrats in voting against it. The House of Representatives passed the bill Saturday 52-47, with Rep. Megan Jones, R-Sioux Rapids, joining the Democrats to vote no.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed this provision into law on Friday, May 3, 2019. 

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter