Defunding Planned Parenthood is goal conservatives across the country strive for. Governor Terry Branstad campaigned on the issue during the 2010 campaign. Now, there is an amendment in the Iowa House that would seemingly accomplish that goal. But a few House Republicans who initially sponsored that amendment are now speaking out against it.
Planned Parenthood is the country’s largest abortion provider. They have 20 clinics in Iowa and 12 of them conduct abortions. The other eight offer “abortion referrals”.
H-8213 was crafted by House Representative Annette Sweeney. She represents District 44, a largely rural area encompassing Hardin and Marshall counties. Her amendment, called the Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priorities Act, applies to the Health and Human Services budget. The amendment would shift funds that currently go to Planned Parenthood and similar abortion clinics and distribute the money to hospitals that offer complete medical services to women.
“We need to make sure that our rural hospitals are in the funding stream,” Sweeney said. “They need to be able to help women with a holistic type of health care, with things like providing mammograms and other types of exams.”
Similar bills have passed in nine other states. Social conservative organizations like The Family Leader are openly advocating for Sweeney’s amendment. So did House members Kim Pearson and Tom Shaw, initially. They even co-sponsored the legislation. Now, Pearson and Shaw are against it.
“Tom and I thought this might be a good idea, and then further looking at it, we thought no, we can’t do this,” Pearson told TheIowaRepublican.com. “It obviously was an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, without naming Planned Parenthood, but in the end taxpayer funds are still being used (for abortions). It’s just paid to a different provider.”
Planned Parenthood does not use the taxpayer funds for abortions. The money pays for birth control and screenings. However, Medicaid money has provided for abortions for low-income women in Iowa in the case of rape, incest, fetal abnormalities and when the life of the mother is at risk since 1978. The Iowa Department of Health Services claims federal law requires these exceptions to be funded.
Last year, the Republican controlled House twice passed HHS budgets that stripped the money for Medicaid-funded abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and fetal abnormalities. The Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate rejected both budgets.
After changing his mind about Sweeney’s proposed legislation, Representative Shaw authored an amendment that would make the bill much less likely to pass. Shaw changed the writing to strip all funding for abortions and facilities that provide them.
Kim Pearson rejects the notion that the attempt to defund Planned Parenthood will accomplish anything. “You’ve tried since 1973 to do incrementalism and how has it worked? It hasn’t. We will always lose because we are not taking the principled stand,” she said. Pearson also state that even if Sweeney’s amendment passes, Planned Parenthood will find ways to subvert the bill by becoming a full-service medical provider.
Representative Sweeney is disappointed that Pearson and Shaw have turned against the amendment they originally supported. “I’ve talked with Rep. Shaw and Rep. Pearson and they expressed that they want to make sure that no abortions are funded. Federally, we have the Hyde Amendment that says you must…I’m looking at this as the State of Iowa is taking a positive step toward women’s healthcare.”
The likelihood of defunding Planned Parenthood this year is slim. Although Sweeney’s amendment once stood a good chance of passing the Iowa House, the opposition of Pearson, Shaw and Glen Massie puts that in doubt. The Democrat-controlled Senate is likely to reject the amendment. Planned Parenthood is a major donor to Democrats nationwide.
If the amendment did pass the legislature, it is likely to be signed by Governor Branstad. “He’s still in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood,” spokesman Tim Albrecht told TheIowaRepublican.com. “He said that during the campaign and he stands by that today.” Albrecht added that, with all bills, Branstad would need to read it before making his final decision.
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