A handful of Iowa House Republicans trying to tie birth control to abortion

A handful of Iowa House Republicans trying to tie birth control to abortion

By Nikoel Hytrek

February 27, 2024

Some Iowa House Republicans are attempting to bog down a bipartisan bill to legalize over-the-counter birth control by adding amendments that compare birth control to abortion, limiting how long a person can receive birth control under the bill, and adding penalties for pimps.

All the House Members who introduced the various amendments are on record as being extremely anti-abortion. They were all part of a bloc that introduced an even stricter abortion ban last year than the one Gov. Kim Reynolds signed after July’s special one-day legislative session.

HF 2584 is the over-the-counter birth control bill and four amendments added to it would require pharmacists to:

Rep. Zach Dieken (R-Granville) introduced two of the amendments comparing birth control to abortion and an amendment that would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control for religious or moral reasons.

Dieken voted against the near-total abortion ban passed last year because he said it doesn’t go far enough. The state trooper has been quoted saying abortion is murder.

How this ties to anti-abortion attacks

Anti-abortion groups typically say life begins at fertilization, not when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. Because of that, the movement has long tried to claim that birth control and abortion are the same thing, especially for intra-uterine devices (IUDs) and emergency contraception (commonly known by the brand-name PlanB or as the morning-after pill.)

But contraceptives are not abortion. They are a variety of methods to prevent pregnancy from happening at all by changing the lining of the uterus or when eggs are released.

Abortion medication is not the same thing as contraceptives. Those pills are incredibly safe and are commonly advised for use in the first 12 or 11 weeks of pregnancy. They end a pregnancy.

The anti-abortion strategy for attacking birth control is to make people think contraceptives and abortion are the same thing, to claim birth control is dangerous to people’s health, and to pass laws that will go in front of right-wing judges.

In the Supreme Court ruling overturning the national right to abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the most extreme justices on the bench, suggested repealing the right to birth control enshrined in 1965’s Griswold v Connecticut too.

More on HF 2584

In January, Gov. Kim Reynolds listed over-the-counter birth control as one of her legislative priorities. One she and many progressives have worked on for years.

In the bill, that birth control includes hormonal birth control pills, hormonal vaginal rings, and any hormonal contraceptive patch.

This bill would allow pharmacists to dispense an initial three-month supply of birth control to patients who are at least 18 years old and have completed a self-screening risk assessment. After that first supply, pharmacists would be able to give people a full year’s supply as long as it’s the same method.

Pharmacists would also have to give patients written information about the importance of consulting a doctor for preventative care like exams and tests, the effectiveness and availability of long-acting birth control such as IUDs, and a record that includes information about the chosen contraceptive.

Patients would need to have a doctor’s appointment within 27 months of getting renewals.

Rep. Luana Stoltenberg (R-Davenport) introduced an amendment restricting the maximum supply a pharmacist could dispense at a time to four months, instead of 12. It also reduces the 27-month allowance between doctor’s appointments to seven months.

Other weird amendments

Rep. Helena Hayes (R-New Sharon) introduced an amendment that strikes every reference to the word “patient” and replaces it with “woman.”

There are four other amendments to the bill that would require pharmacists to ask if the person getting the birth control has some connection to a pimp. One of the pimp amendments requires a person accompanying someone to get birth control to fill out a pimp form and pay a $10 tax.

  • Nikoel Hytrek

    Nikoel Hytrek is Iowa Starting Line’s longest-serving reporter. She covers LGBTQ issues, abortion rights and all topics of interest to Iowans. Her biggest goal is to help connect the dots between policy and people’s real lives. If you have story ideas or tips, send them over to [email protected].

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