Senate Democrats Bring Down Branstad Appointees Over Abortion Vote

Apr 19, 2017

Two of Governor Branstad’s re-appointments to the Iowa Board of Medicine failed to get the votes needed for confirmation in the Iowa Senate last night, going down to defeat over the issue of abortion.  

In 2013 Board Chair Diane Clark, a public member from Lake Mills, and Dr. Hamed Tewfik, a physician from Iowa City,  voted to stop Planned Parenthood’s telemed abortion program, which allows women to obtain medical abortions from remote locations without a physician present.  

It was a very important vote. -Sen. Janet Peterson

Senator Janet Peterson (D-Des Moines) led the opposition to the appointees.

“This is the Board of Medicine,” Peterson said.  “This is not Governor Branstad and Kim Reynolds board that they politically stack with people who won't back a woman's constitutional right for a legal medical procedure.”

The Board of Medicine argued a physician should conduct a physical exam before a medical abortion occurs.   

In 2015 Planned Parenthood went on to win a lawsuit to continue to provide the remote abortion service.   

Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) defended Tewfik’s nomination.

“That was one vote out of several hundred,” Hull said.

“It was a very important vote,” Peterson replied, “in my opinion.”

“He didn't do what you wanted him to do so you're taking him down,” Feenstra said.

Sen. Robie Smith (R-Davenport) argued on Diane Clark’s behalf.

It was a litmus test. -Sen. Julian Garrett

“Diane Clark has a heart of gold,” Smith said.

The votes against each appointee was 32 to 18, short of the required two-thirds majority.

In remarks on the floor after the vote, Republicans responded to the vote.

“I was remarked with their qualifications,” said Sen. Julian Garrett (R-Indianola).   “It was a litmus test.”

Governor Branstad issued a statement criticizing the Senate vote.

“It's really unfortunate that two highly qualified individuals, who volunteered their time to serving Iowans, are prohibited from serving another term on the Board of Medicine,” Branstad said, “because Senate Democrats wish to play the worst kind of petty partisan politics.”