Iowa's Planned Parenthood affiliate rejects Margaret Sanger's harmful ideas

“We are owning our organization’s history and are committed to addressing the implicit bias and structural racism within our organization and communities,” Planned Parenthood North Central States declared on July 24, near the top of a statement denouncing racist and eugenicist ideas espoused by Margaret Sanger. Formed in 2018 when Planned Parenthood of the Heartland merged with a neighboring organization, the affiliate operates 29 clinics in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Many who believe in Planned Parenthood’s mission–especially the white women who have been the majority of the organization’s volunteers in Iowa–know little about Sanger other than that she established the country’s first birth control clinic. Although I’m a third-generation supporter of Planned Parenthood in Iowa, I was ignorant about Sanger’s eugenicist views for much of my adult life. Those views were repugnant, and it’s important for reproductive rights advocates to be clear about rejecting them.

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Abortions up 25 percent after Iowa GOP replaced family planning program

Who could have predicted it, other than anyone familiar with reproductive health care?

Republican lawmakers and Governor Terry Branstad eliminated Iowa’s successful Medicaid Family Planning Waiver in 2017 and created a new state program that excluded abortion providers. The move forced Planned Parenthood to close four of its Iowa clinics around the state and dramatically decreased the number of Iowans receiving birth control and other reproductive services.

Preliminary data from the Iowa Department of Public Health indicate that Iowans had 25 percent more abortions in 2019 than in the previous year.

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Ashley Hinson dodged Iowa House debates on high-profile bills

State Representative Ashley Hinson didn’t miss a roll call vote as the Iowa House wrapped up its work in June, legislative records show. But the two-term Republican mostly stayed out of the House chamber while colleagues debated controversial bills.

The tactic allowed Hinson, who is also the GOP challenger in Iowa’s first Congressional district, to avoid public questioning about policies she supported. Notably, she was absent during most of the House deliberations on imposing a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, establishing a barrier to voting by mail, and giving businesses near-total immunity from lawsuits related to COVID-19.

Neither Hinson nor her Congressional campaign responded to Bleeding Heartland’s repeated inquiries about those absences.

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Republicans found shortcut around Iowa Supreme Court on abortion

Spirits lifted in the pro-choice community when Iowa House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl did not call up a constitutional amendment on abortion shortly after the legislature reconvened this month.

Republican leaders wanted to pass the amendment, which had advanced from committee months earlier. When a high-profile bill doesn’t come to the floor, it often means the majority party doesn’t have the votes for final passage.

Indeed, at least three of the 53 House Republicans resisted immense pressure to vote for legislation designed to overturn an Iowa Supreme Court ruling protecting “the constitutional right of women to terminate a pregnancy.”

Unfortunately, the holdouts agreed to a last-minute abortion restriction that may provide a faster way to undo the high court’s work.

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Court strikes down Iowa law denying sex ed funding to Planned Parenthood

Iowa Republicans were too clever by half when they slipped language targeting Planned Parenthood into a budget bill last year. Instead of prohibiting state agencies from awarding sex education grants to all entities that provide abortions, GOP lawmakers wrote an exception into the law so that UnityPoint facilities could remain eligible for the funding.

For that reason, a Polk County District Court determined this week that the prohibition violated the Iowa Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.

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