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Bill To Defund Planned Parenthood Passes Out of Committee

Sarah Boden/IPR

A bill taking away federal family planning funding from organizations that provide abortions in Iowa has passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by an eight-to-five vote along party lines.  The legislation turns down a total of $2.9 million federal dollars received via the Iowa Family Planning Network (IFPN) waiver. 

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Iowa's largest abortion provider, stands to lose roughly $1 million in funding. Based on tax documents, this is about five percent of the organization's annual revenue. 

No taxpayer dollars in Iowa pay for abortion services. But supporters of the legislation say providing public funds to organizations that perform abortion still indirectly supports the procedure.

"If we take taxpayer money and give it to Planned Parenthood," says State Sen. Julian Garrett of Warren County, "it's perfectly obvious that frees up other money to pay for abortion."

As a replacement for the waiver, the bill also creates a state-run family planning program. This program will not completely halt all Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood as Iowa's entire pool of Medicaid recipients is far greater than those who use the IFPN waiver. 

Republican lawmakers also say the bill increases the number of low-income people who receive family planning services, while expanding healthcare access in rural Iowa. They point out that Planned Parenthood clinics are only located in Iowa's larger cities.

"Transitioning to the state option will...provide the same services right where our sisters and our mothers and out daughters live," says Sen. Amy Sinclair of Wayne County. "The increased access in both facilities and scope of service is why I’m such an advocate for this transition."

Planned Parenthood argues that in reality defunding the organization hurts rural women, since its level of care is highly specialized and the access it provides is more immediate. Opponents of the legislation also say Planned Parenthood actually prevents abortions due to its comprehensive contraceptive and sexual education services.

"The new program devised by eight men and one woman in the Senate, none of whom have a medical degree, will put the entire cost of the program on the backs of Iowa taxpayers," says Democratic Sen. Janet Petersen of Polk County, who opposes the legislation. "Senate Republicans want to scrap the successful program and force Iowa tax payers to spend 10 times the money just to exclude Planned Parenthood from providing care to Iowa women and men." 

Like the Senate, Iowa's House also has a Republican majority. There is little doubt the legislation will reach the governor's desk.