Iowa AG Stops Paying For Portions Of Rape Victims’ Health Care

The office of Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird (R) announced Friday that Iowa will no longer pay for emergency contraception—morning-after pills—or abortions for sexual assault victims.

“While not required by Iowa law, the victim compensation fund has previously paid for Plan B and abortions. As a part of her top-down, bottom-up audit of victim assistance, Attorney General Bird is carefully evaluating whether this is an appropriate use of public funds,” Bird Press Secretary Alyssa Brouillet said in a statement to the Des Moines Register. “Until that review is complete, payment of these pending claims will be delayed.”

In rare cases, the state would also pay for victims’ abortions. The statement from Bird’s office did not mention what other types of victim services are being reviewed.

Emergency contraception like Plan B is not the same thing as abortion, but anti-abortion activists and groups have purposely conflated the two and frequently targeted both emergency contraception and other forms of contraception.

Advertise on Iowa Starting Line

Both Iowa law and federal regulations require the state to pay for some out-of-pocket expenses for victims of violent crimes. That’s why the crime victim compensation fund exists.

The AG’s website lists medical care, counseling, and lost wages among others that are covered by the fund. For sexual assault victims, that includes rape kits and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. The money comes from fines and penalties paid by those convicted of crimes, not taxpayer money.

Under former attorney general Tom Miller, it was long-term state policy to cover emergency contraception as well.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show that sexual violence affects over half of American women and 1 in 3 American men. One in 4 women and 1 in 26 men have experienced attempted or completed rape.

“My concern is for the victims of sexual assault, who, with no real notice, are now finding themselves either unable to access needed treatment and services, or are now being forced to pay out of their own pocket for those services, when this was done at no fault of their own,” said Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, director of the crime victim assistance division under Miller, told the Des Moines Register.

Bird ran on a platform of protecting victims. Last Tuesday she tweeted that her office “is committed to working with survivors of sexual assault to ensure they receive the support they need.”

Yet, Bird has also been eager to restrict or ban access to healthcare such as abortion medication.

She was one of 20 conservative attorney generals to sign onto a letter to Walgreens, CVS, and other retail pharmacies warning them not to sell abortion medication in the state, after the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved it earlier this year.

This is despite abortion being legal in Iowa until 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Bird is also defending Iowa’s six-week abortion ban in court, which is something former AG Tom Miller refused to do.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.


Nikoel Hytrek

Advertise on Iowa Starting Line


If you enjoy stories like these, make sure to sign up for Iowa Starting Line’s main newsletter and/or our working class-focused Worker’s Almanac newsletter.

Have a story idea or something I should know? Email me at You can also DM me on Twitter at @n_hytrek

​​Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. You can contribute to us hereFind ISL on TikTokInstagramFacebook and Twitter.

2 Comments on "Iowa AG Stops Paying For Portions Of Rape Victims’ Health Care"

  • There is a special place in hell for those who would retraumatize victims of sexual violence. As the Attorney General of Iowa I wonder if you could release the number of convictions for sexual assault and therefore standing of said monies for the past 5 years. Certainly those statistics must be at your fingertips. Transparency is the word for these times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *