To no one’s surprise, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s political arm, called the Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa PAC, endorsed Governor Chet Culver’s re-election bid today. Planned Parenthood’s PAC (at that time called the Freedom Fund) supported Culver during the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary and in that year’s general election against Jim Nussle, and the PAC’s statement issued today explains the decision to back him again:
“Governor Chet Culver has done more to reduce the need for abortion and increase access for women’s health care than his opponent ever will,” said Jill June, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “During the primary debates, Terry Branstad has made it clear that he would cut basic health care services to more than 50,000 Iowan women by choosing to cut Planned Parenthood as a service provider.”
PAC chair Phyllis Peters cited Governor Culver’s record. “Governor Culver has strongly supported the health care needs of women in many different ways. He has supported vaccine coverage for the HPV vaccine, the only vaccine to prevent cervical cancer; funded the state match to the Medicaid Family Planning Waiver to provide contraception to low income women; supported medically accurate sexuality education in our schools; and supported extending the age a woman can qualify for family planning services. Women in Iowa can count on Governor Culver to listen, understand and respond to the very real health needs of women.”
In the primary campaign candidate Terry Branstad indicated that he would support an Iowa law similar to one just passed in Oklahoma, which would require an invasive sonogram for women who seek abortions. Unlike sonograms currently used in Iowa, this would require a sonogram where a probe is inserted in the woman to show the image of the fetus, even for victims of rape and incest.
“Terry Branstad believes in using intimidation tactics to prevent women from their legal rights. That’s not what Iowan’s believe or want in our state,” said Jill June. “The Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa PAC is speaking out against these tactics of discrimination and intimidation, as we show our support for Governor Culver.”
Branstad generally avoids mentioning Planned Parenthood by name, but this spring he repeatedly said Iowa “should not provide funding for organizations that provide abortion services.” That wording left the misleading impression that state funding pays for abortions, but no government money pays for any abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics. Most of the state funding to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland covers contraception and is matched on a 9:1 basis by the federal government through the Medicaid family planning program. (That is, every dollar from the state budget is matched by $9 from Medicaid.)
It’s outrageous that Branstad, the former president of a medical school, would support an Oklahoma abortion law that lets the government dictate how some doctors should care for their patients and even how they should talk to their patients. So much for government not getting between you and your doctor.
Culver slammed the Oklahoma approach in this statement his campaign released today:
“I am so pleased to receive the endorsement of Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa PAC. I’ve worked very hard in my first term to maintain and improve family planning and women’s rights in the state of Iowa and I am proud to have their support in this election. By contrast, Terry Branstad doesn’t trust the women of Iowa to make their own health care decisions.
“What’s ironic is that the women and men of Iowa cannot trust Branstad on health care. When he was at Des Moines University, he supported mandates. When he was campaigning in the Republican primary, he opposed mandates. Iowans can only guess as to his position tomorrow. What is clear is that he thinks requirements such as allowing adult children to continue to be insured on their parents’ policy or prohibiting people from being denied insurance for pre-existing conditions is too intrusive but forcing victims to have invasive procedures is all right.
“Branstad even campaigned on enacting a law similar to the one passed in Oklahoma. The law requires a woman to have an invasive and expensive sonogram, for no medical reason, prior to receiving some services, forcing women who are victims of rape or incest to re-live these horrifying violent crimes. Well, I believe that is wrong.
“Terry Branstad is out of touch on this issue. He even refused to comment on the endorsement today because he knows that he’s on the wrong side of women’s issues.
“I have worked hard to invest in a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health care and I will continue that investment.”
Click here for background on Branstad’s inconsistent stand regarding a proposed individual mandate to purchase health insurance.
No doubt we’ll hear more this fall about Branstad opposing reproductive rights, because it fits Culver’s message about Branstad pushing failed ideas of the past.