Iowa activists and legislators gathered on Monday at the Statehouse to prepare for the upcoming battle over defunding Planned Parenthood. Tomorrow is the first step in the legislative process for Senate File 2, the legislation co-sponsored by every Republican senator that restricts any state funds from family planning services at Planned Parenthood.
A subcommittee hearing is being held tomorrow at 11:30 in Room 22 at the Capitol. Senator Amy Sinclair, the only female Republican senator, is expected to take the lead on the matter.
Members of Planned Parenthood and supportive activists held a press conference and training today on lobbying legislators during the process. Many expressed frustration over the focus of the Republican agenda rolled out so far for the legislative session.
“What we’re looking at on the agenda in the Iowa Senate, they would make it easier for an Iowa woman to get a machine gun than a Pap smear,” said Senator Janet Petersen, who pointed out that 28 of the 29 co-sponsors are men. “Not only does it defund Planned Parenthood, it defunds our family planning no matter where you choose to get your care.”
Senate File 2 aims to dismantle the current setup of Iowa’s Family Planning Network and create a separate system that is largely the same, but would exclude Planned Parenthood.
“We call this the gold standard of family planning access for low income Iowans,” explained Erin Davison-Rippey of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “What it does is that it provides people up to 300% of poverty … to get family planning services, particularly family planning services that prevent unintended pregnancy.”
The Republican changes would mean Iowa would forgo $3 million in federal funds during a year where Iowa is already facing a budget shortfall. Davison also predicted it would cause overcrowding for all Iowa patients looking for services at any Iowa healthcare provider.
“We’re all at capacity,” she noted. “To remove one of the primary providers of these services leaves everybody else trying to scramble. For anyone who’s tried to book an annual exam, you know you don’t just get in next week.”
Activists and legislators are plenty used to Iowa Republicans introducing bills to severely limit women’s healthcare choices. Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell recounted how House Republicans have proposed or passed bills like “personhood,” a 20-week abortion ban, funding cuts for health services, liability and lawsuit bills and even one that mandated women provide funeral services for aborted fetuses. Senate Democrats were always able to halt those bills with their past majority. This year Republicans control both chambers.
“I am often dismayed and confused why we’re spending so much time discussing this issue,” Wessel-Kroeschell said of the Republican legislation.
A large turnout of Planned Parenthood supporters is expected at the Statehouse tomorrow for the subcommittee meeting. Davison noted it was one of the only real chances for public input throughout the legislative process. She also encouraged supporters to call Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds at 515-281-5211 to voice their opposition to the bill.
by Pat Rynard