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Planned Parenthood Files Lawsuit Challenging Sex Education Law

planned parenthood clinic
Sarah Boden/IPR File
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is taking legal action against the state for a law that would ban it from receiving grants for sex education programs

Planned Parenthood has taken legal action to challenge a law that blocks the organization from receiving two grants for sex education programs. The law, which was part of health budget bill passed last month, prohibits organizations that provide abortions from receiving funding for sex education. 

The lawsuit filed Wednesday by the ACLU of Iowa asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional, arguing that the law violates free speech, due process and equal protection under the Iowa Constitution.

Planned Parenthood said the law affects funding from the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (CAPP) grants, which fund programs in 31 schools and 21 community-based organizations. ACLU legal director Rita Bettis-Austen said the law could affect thousands of kids.

"In these at-risk counties, in some cases, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is the only provider of sex education services so teens won't be able to get the information they need about their bodies and their relationships," Bettis-Austen said.

The law unfairly targets Planned Parenthood, Bettis-Austen said, because it provides abortion services.

"This law says you can't engage in those critically important healthcare services to your patients and also engage in this absolutely separate program of sex education to at-risk Iowa youth," she said.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the provision earlier this month. A spokesperson for the governor released a statement in response that said, "Governor Reynolds is 100 percent pro-life and believes taxpayer dollars shouldn't fund an organization that provides abortions."

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter