Iowa Senate Passes Pro-Life Bill to Save Babies From Abortion, Help Moms Find Alternatives

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 6, 2022   |   12:33PM   |   Des Moines, Iowa

The Iowa Senate passed a pro-life bill to expand resources for pregnant and parenting moms this spring while working to protect unborn babies from abortion.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports the Iowa More Options for Maternal Support, or M.O.M.S., Act (Senate File 2354), passed in a 32-16 vote despite Democrats’ and abortion activists’ objections. The bill now heads to the state House.

State Sen. Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, encouraged lawmakers to support mothers in need Tuesday prior to the vote, sharing how she once struggled with an unplanned pregnancy, according to the report.

“I was not going to stop a heartbeat because it didn’t align with my life plan and it was inconvenient,” Cournoyer said, adding that her son is now 25.

She said the legislation will provide “support and resources so that women don’t think abortion is their only option.”

The M.O.M.S. Act would allocate $1 million for nonprofits that provide support services to pregnant and new moms, including cribs, formula, diapers, clothing, job and housing assistance, counseling and more. It also would extend Medicaid services from two months to a full year to mothers after the birth of their child.

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“Pregnant women and new moms deserve more access to meaningful assistance and support when they need it most,” said Kristi Judkins, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, which supports the bill.

Judkins said more than a dozen states have similar alternatives to abortion programs in place for mothers and children in need. These include Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas.

However, Democrat lawmakers voted against the bill, saying pro-lifers should support government-funded childcare, housing, health care and other government programs if they really want fewer abortions, the local news report continues.

State Sen. Claire Celsi, D-Des Moines, said everyone agrees that “fewer abortions is a good thing,” but Democrats believe in a different approach.

However, a statement from Planned Parenthood appears to contradict Celsi’s claim about universal support for reducing abortions. The abortion chain blasted the legislation because it would fund organizations that discourage women from aborting their unborn babies, according to the report.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa spokesperson Sheena Dooley also said the bill would waste taxpayer dollars that should be given to them instead.

“[This bill] diverts taxpayer dollars that could be used to expand affordable, high-quality reproductive health care during a time when Iowa faces multiple health crises,” Dooley said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S., aborting about 350,000 unborn babies every year. Nationally, it receives hundreds of millions of tax dollars annually.

Pro-life advocates believe Iowa should encourage childbirth over abortion, and one of the ways to do that is by supporting women in need.

“When faced with a crisis pregnancy, many women fear they won’t be able to find needed social services, family support, and financial resources,” Judkins said. “No matter the status of abortion law, we have a responsibility to help women with real options and support when they are pregnant.”

Iowa leaders also are working to protect unborn babies by challenging a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that found a “right” to abortion in the Iowa Constitution. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a pro-life Republican, is leading the effort.

Meanwhile, pro-lifers also are working to pass a state constitutional amendment to reverse the pro-abortion ruling and declare that there is no right to abortion or a taxpayer-funded abortion in Iowa. The amendment potentially could be on the ballot for voters’ approval in 2024.

Pro-life advocates all across the country are working hard to advance pro-life efforts in anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade this summer. A ruling on the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, is expected this summer.

Last year, Reynolds joined a dozen pro-life governors in urging the high court to give “this issue back to the people” and allow states to protect unborn babies from abortions again. Right now, Roe forces states to legalize abortions up to viability.

If the court overturns Roe, the Guttmacher Institute predicts Iowa would be one of 26 states that would ban abortions. Researchers estimate abortion numbers would drop by about 120,000 in the U.S. in the first year and potentially even more in subsequent years if the high court allows states to ban abortions again.