Iowa Legislature Will Defund Planned Parenthood, Redirect Funds to Non-Abortion Groups

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 12, 2017   |   7:33PM   |   Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa lawmakers took the first steps to defund Planned Parenthood this week and redirect tax dollars to comprehensive health clinics that don’t do abortions.

The Associated Press reports the plans to stop funneling tax money to abortion groups involve rejecting a federal grant for family planning services. The Planned Parenthood abortion affiliate in Iowa receives about $2.7 million in tax dollars per year from the grant and the state, according to The Des Moines Register.

Here’s more from the AP:

By defunding Planned Parenthood, the state will lose about $3 million of federal funding for family planning services. The state pays about $300,000, which prompts the 90 percent to 10 percent match.

Although it will lose the federal Medicaid money, Ben Hammes, a spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad, says Iowa will spend an equal amount on family planning services by tapping a separate federal grant. This money will go to organizations that don’t perform abortions.

Iowa state Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, told the Register she is hopeful that pro-life legislation will pass this session.

“I am excited. I think we can go forward with more protection for babies, for women, for more and better health care, where it really needs to go,” Salmon said.

In 2016, Iowa House lawmakers passed a spending bill to defund the abortion giant, but the Democrat-controlled state Senate rejected the measure. A defunding plan appears more likely to pass in 2017 after Iowa voters elected Republican majorities to both houses, according to the AP.

Earlier this week, out-going Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad urged state lawmakers to defund the abortion chain during his final Condition of the State speech. Branstad, who Donald Trump nominated as his ambassador to China, asked state lawmakers to redirect tax dollars to comprehensive health centers to ensure Iowans have access to quality health care, the AP reports.

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“This budget … redirects family planning money to organizations that focus on providing health care for women and eliminates taxpayer funding for organizations that perform abortions,” he said at the state Capitol.

A spokesperson for Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who will take Branstad’s place, said she supports his statements.

Pro-life groups in Iowa also formed a new alliance this month to back the defunding effort. United, the groups hope to provide a more effective, unified message of abortion facts to the public and to debunk the misconceptions disseminated by pro-abortion organizations.

“Truly the potential is limitless in our efforts to save unborn lives and protect women when we commit to working together,” Jenifer Bowen of Iowa Right to Life said of the new coalition.

Abortion advocates quickly attacked the defunding plans, claiming that Planned Parenthood is essential to women’s health care in the state.

“My concern about cutting funding for Planned Parenthood is that abortions will increase because what we will see is more people not having access to family planning, that being birth control pills or whatever else they need to be able to prevent unwanted pregnancies,” state Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, told the Register.

But the state lawmakers’ plans would ensure women would not lose access to comprehensive health care. While Planned Parenthood no longer would receive tax dollars, community health care facilities would. These clinics are far more numerous than Planned Parenthoods, and they offer comprehensive health services that the abortion chain does not.

In 2015, Alliance Defending Freedom and the Charlotte Lozier Institute reported there are 13,540 medical clinics providing whole-woman healthcare in the United States versus 665 Planned Parenthood facilities, which offer only limited services including abortion.

As LifeNews previously reported, a 2015 public opinion poll conducted in Iowa found that the majority of the state’s residents support de-funding Planned Parenthood and sending government funding to legitimate health care clinics instead. The survey, commissioned by the pro-life legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, found that 69 percent of Iowans agree that taxpayers should not subsidize groups like Planned Parenthood that perform abortions.