By: MacKenzie Dreeszen
The subcommittee hearing for SF 2, a bill to defund organizations that perform abortions, was held on Tuesday morning. Introduced on the first day of the 87th General Assembly, the bill is sponsored by Senator Amy Sinclair and co-sponsored by the entire Senate Republican caucus.
After referral to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill was assigned to a subcommittee consisting of Senator Sinclair, Senator Jason Schultz, and Senator Janet Petersen.
SF 2 calls for the formation of a state family planning fund to redistribute funds that currently go to clinics that perform abortions. These dollars would only go to women’s health and family planning centers that do not perform abortions. The bill states, “Family planning services program funds distributed in accordance with this section shall not be used for direct or indirect costs, including but not limited to administrative costs or expenses, overhead, employee salaries, rent, and telephone and other utility costs, related to providing abortions in subsection 4”.
Senator Schultz says that this bill will help rural Iowans by providing more resources for clinics in non-urban areas.
In attendance were several activists from pro-life organizations, including The FAMiLY Leader, Personhood Iowa, The Iowa Catholic Conference, Informed Choice of Iowa, and Iowa Right To Life and Life Right Action.
Jenifer Bowen of Iowa Right To Life and Life Right Action stated that this bill would give “more women more choices” in their healthcare.
Rachel Owen, the executive director of Informed Choice of Iowa, argued against Planned Parenthood representatives who voiced concern that this bill would eliminate non-abortion services for women.
“Informed Choice of Iowa provides preventative screenings such as mammograms and Pap smears, STI and STD testing and treatment, contraceptives, and sex education without performing abortions. These services are free of cost and our organization is privately funded. There are 20 other organizations in the state that offer the same services.”
Another supporter of this bill stated that “The argument that eliminating Planned Parenthood would take away women’s healthcare is false. There are only 12 Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa, so it is usually much closer for women living in rural areas to go to their local healthcare provider instead”.
A representative for the Iowa Catholic Conference spoke on behalf of this bill.
“We believe that life is a sacred right and abortion is in direct violation of that right, particularly for poor women and children.”
Several groups in opposition to this bill were also present. These included the Iowa Community Action Association, the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance, the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the League of Women Voters of Iowa, AFSCME Council 61, ACLU of Iowa, the Family Planning Council of Iowa, the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Iowa Interfaith Alliance, and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. Planned Parenthood alone had 288 supporters who became so disruptive during the hearing that the door to the meeting room had to be closed.
The bill was recommended to the Senate floor following the subcommittee hearing. It is expected to pass the Senate with at least 30 votes from the entire Republican caucus plus an additional vote from Senator David Johnson, a pro-life Independent and former member of the Republican caucus.