abortion

Iowa General Assembly

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.  

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

Sarah Boden/IPR

A Republican-dominated panel at the statehouse last night approved a human services budget that changes how family planning programs are paid for across the state.  

The bill will eliminate state funding that used to go to clinics that also perform abortions, including Planned Parenthood.  

Up to now, the state spent just under half a million dollars, or $482,000,  for family planning services including birth control and pregnancy tests.  

The rest came from the federal government.

Joyce Russell/IPR

After more than six hours of sometimes bitter debate extending over two days the Iowa House last night approved a bill which, if it becomes law, would include the most extensive abortion restrictions ever approved in Iowa.   

The bill bans abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, and enacts a 72 hour waiting period for all abortions.   

House Republicans could not reach consensus on a bill banning all abortions, or another banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.   

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad is throwing his full support behind anti-abortion legislation making its way through the Republican-controlled legislature, saying the new GOP majority in the Iowa Senate is making it possible.     

Branstad backs a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy that has passed the Iowa Senate and is now awaiting a vote in the full House.   

House Republicans last week introduced a measure to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly 5 to 6 weeks into pregnancy, before some women would know they are pregnant.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A controversial proposal to ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat has been removed from the GOP agenda in the Iowa House, roughly 24 hours after it was introduced.   

Republicans will now return their attention to a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  

“This is the legislation we have consensus on,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Joel Fry (R-Osceola).   “We’ve been working over the last few hours trying to get consensus within our caucus.”

John Pemble/IPR

Republican lawmakers in the Iowa House have begun a second attempt to ban abortion in the state after the 20th week of pregnancy.     

The GOP caucus in the House is strongly anti-abortion, but there are divisions about how far an abortion restriction should go.   

Earlier the House Human Resources committee failed to pass the 20-week ban.   

Many members had wanted to go further and outlaw abortion altogether.   

Now a 20-week ban has come over from the Senate, with an exception for fetal anomalies.  

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Iowa House Human Resources Committee will likely soon vote on a bill from the state Senate that takes away public family planning money from organizations that provide abortions. The legislation most affects 12 Planned Parenthood clinics.  

No state or federal dollars pay for abortion services. But people who want to defund organizations like Planned Parenthood argue that giving any public funding to these clinics still indirectly promotes abortion.

Laura Limmex of Ankeny says she opposes abortion, after having a horrible experience at age 16.

WIKICOMMONS / Iznewton

Legislation that bans the transfer or receipt of fetal tissues has passed out of subcommittee in the Iowa state Senate. Federal law already makes it illegal to sell fetal tissues for profit, but supporters of the bill say they don’t want aborted fetuses used in research.  

Sarah Boden/IPR

A bill taking away federal family planning funding from organizations that provide abortions in Iowa has passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by an eight-to-five vote along party lines.  The legislation turns down a total of $2.9 million federal dollars received via the Iowa Family Planning Network (IFPN) waiver. 

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Iowa's largest abortion provider, stands to lose roughly $1 million in funding. Based on tax documents, this is about five percent of the organization's annual revenue. 

Sarah Boden/IPR

Iowa’s Republican lawmakers are a step closer to defunding the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics. A bill to instead fund organizations that don’t provide abortion services passed out of a state senate subcommittee today.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland supporters crammed into the meeting to voice their objection to the legislation. The hallway behind the senate chamber held those who couldn’t fit into the hearing room, with their chants of "Women's Rights! Women's Rights" carrying into the room.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

A bill passed out of subcommittee late this afternoon allows a woman to sue her physician for the emotional distress that results from an abortion. Currently a only handful of states, including Nebraska and Wisconsin, have similar laws. 

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Republican-controlled Iowa statehouse aims to limit abortion access by cutting off public funding to Iowa’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a reported 26,000 patients.

Lawmakers say they’ll fund sexual and reproductive healthcare services provided by organizations other than Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. But the healthcare organization said in a conference call this morning this will create a vacuum for critical services.

Charlotte Cooper / Flickr

Iowans have a reputation for being non-confrontational; the phrase 'Iowa Nice' is embedded in our vocabulary, right behind 'Iowa Stubborn.' In Beyond Iowa Nice, Iowa Public Radio is inviting Iowans to share their perspectives on some of the most controversial and divisive topics in the state today in an attempt to foster empathy and find common ground. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad is unhappy with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Texas abortion law.    

The case dealt with the same issues the Iowa Supreme Court considered when it upheld Iowa’s telemed abortion program.   

The Texas law required abortion clinics to be near hospitals, so doctors performing abortions can admit patients if there are complications.

It also required abortion clinics to meet certain building, equipment and staffing regulations.

Branstad says states should be able to protect the wellbeing of their citizens.

Photo by John Pemble

A controversial measure to defund Planned Parenthood because the organization performs abortions is again under consideration at the statehouse, with the blessing of Governor Branstad. 

Republicans have added the measure to a human services budget bill, setting up a showdown with Democratic critics.   

The governor won’t comment on the specific legislation, but at his weekly news conference he made his views clear.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Iowa no longer has the only statewide telemedicine abortion network in the country. Today, Maine Family Planning has started providing the service at 16 of its clinics. 

"It was helpful for us to be able to look at another very rural state, not necessary a completely blue state, another state we could relate to and say this can be done," says Maine Family Planning's Jennifer Thibodeau. "It was just inspiring to see another state that we really felt similar to, be able to expand access at a time when other states are really struggling to keep doors open."

Joyce Russell/IPR

Activists on both sides of the abortion debate crowded a committee room at the capitol Tuesday, weighing in on a bill critics call extreme and unprecedented.  

Backers of the bill say it’s needed to prevent the sale or donation of fetal tissue.

An anti-abortion group last year released videos it said depicted Planned Parenthood of trying to sell fetal body parts.    Federal law bans the sale of fetal remains, but the abortion provider was cleared of wrongdoing. 

But Representative Sandy Salmon (Rep. Janesville) says under Iowa law fetal tissue could still be sold.  

Photo by John Pemble

It appears that Governor Branstad is not ruling out an appeal of Friday’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for continued use of so-called telemed abortions.  

The court ruled that the Iowa Board of Medicine placed an unconstitutional burden on women when it banned the administration of abortion-inducing drugs without a doctor in the room. 

Under the procedure, a doctor uses two-way telecommunication to oversee a patient taking an abortion-inducing drug. Governor Branstad disagrees with the ruling.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa Supreme Court says telemedicine abortions in Iowa are allowable. In 2013 the Iowa Board of Medicine created rules that effectively banned abortions performed by video conference, but the state’s high court says these rules create an undue burden for women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. 

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Iowa Board of Medicine faced off at the Iowa Supreme Court Wednesday over providing abortion services with telemedicine. In Iowa only doctors can prescribe the medication that induces miscarriage. Since it's expensive to staff doctors at all its clinics, Planned Parenthood physicians teleconference with patients seeking abortion services.

Women’s Choice Center

A 2012 study found 87 percent of women who seek an abortion were highly confident about the decision before receiving any pre-abortion counseling. But what if a woman changes her mind?

Abortion reversal is a method touted by San Deigo-based Dr. George Delgado. He started building a network of doctors and nurses to preform reversals three years ago.  Today this network is active in 34 states including Iowa.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S.  Supreme Court ruling which over turned state laws banning abortion. But the issue of abortion is still hotly debated.  

Standing in an exam room I’m waiting to meet with Dr. Jill Meadows, a Planned Parenthood of the Heartland physician based in Iowa City. I’m in Des Moines, but really I could be at any of nine Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa because I’ll be speaking with Meadows using a two-way video conference.

A Polk County judge today ruled in favor of the Iowa Board of Medicine on so-called telemed abortions, which involve administering medical abortions without a doctor present.   The judge upheld the Board’s ban on the procedure.

Wikimedia Commons

An anti-abortion group is waiting to hear if the  U.S. Supreme Court  will  reconsider  a ruling on  an Iowa campaign finance law.   Iowa passed its statute in response to the landmark case known as Citizens United.  

Iowa Right to Life says the law prevents  them from supporting  candidates who oppose abortion.     

The Iowa Attorney General is also waiting to hear if the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the case.  

John Pemble / IPR

IPR Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell on legislative news.

Sarah McCammon / IPR

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. And in cities across the country, crowds dressed in pink have been running and walking in the Race for the Cure. But some participants – and their dollars – have been missing from these fundraisers for the Susan G. Komen Foundation this year.

After a public outcry over a decision early this year to stop funding Planned Parenthood, the organization quickly reversed its position.

As Iowa Public Radio’s Sarah McCammon reports, Komen officials say participation is slowly coming back.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Joyce Russell and Sarah McCammon discuss the week ahead in the Iowa Legislature.