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Iowa Governor Seeks To Include Antiabortion-Rights Language in Legislative Agenda

January 12, 2016 — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) announced he will propose policy language in his 2016 legislative agenda to direct public funding away from reproductive health providers who offer abortion care, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports (Boshart, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, 1/10).

Background

In August 2015, Gov. Terry Branstad (R) began reassessing whether to allocate funding grants to Planned Parenthood in the wake of a series of misleading videos targeting the organization. However, he said there was no evidence that Planned Parenthood had violated any laws on fetal tissue and that any investigation into the group would have to be conducted by state Attorney General Tom Miller (D). Branstad added that no state funds are allocated for abortion services, noting that the funding Planned Parenthood receives helps provide family planning services.

Conservative lawmakers in the state House and Senate have asked Miller to investigate the organization (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/25/15).

Details of Plan

In a recent interview, Branstad said he will try to divert funding for abstinence-based sexuality education, family planning, pregnancy prevention and other health care services to providers that do not provide abortion services. The funding would be distributed to health departments at the state and county level, hospitals, community health centers and physician offices.

Branstad said while he would work to defund abortion providers, he was not willing to "unilaterally" end contracts with Planned Parenthood, which has resulted in legal action in other states. The proposed language would not specifically mention Planned Parenthood, but it would effectively defund all abortion providers in the state, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports.

According to Branstad, the language will be similar to federal legislation (S 1881) proposed by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D) criticized the announcement. He noted that Planned Parenthood provides valuable reproductive health services that prevent unintended pregnancies (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, 1/10).