Council restates objections, but approves Family Planning network rules

DES MOINES — A state board that last Wednesday rejected rules to implement one of the Republican-led legislature’s new abortion-related policies has reversed itself and approved the rules late Friday afternoon.

Members of the Council on Human Services still raised concerns that Medicaid patients, particularly low-income women in rural Iowa, would not be able to get prescriptions for contraceptives and reproductive health exams. The new policy prohibits Medicaid patients from using clinics where abortions are performed.

“I completely disagree with the legislation, but realistically in some ways there’s nothing to vote against here, because in some ways the rule has to match the legislation,” Council on Human Services member Kim Spading of Coralville said during the meeting.

As a result of the just-approved rules, not only is Planned Parenthood unable to offer reproductive health services to Medicaid patients, but every clinic associated with UnityPoint as well as the University of Iowa Hospitals are barred from the program, too. Mark Anderson, a pastor from Waverly who is chairman of the Council on Human Services, said access to contraceptives will be more difficult for poor women in rural areas as a result.

“There are some people like me who are adamantly anti-abortion and, therefore, adamantly in favor of accessibility to birth control,” Anderson said. “This is a very important moral issue to us.”

The board plans to draft a letter, outlining their concerns for legislators. Two Republican lawmakers who are non-voting members of the Council on Human Services did not attend today’s meeting, which was conducted by telephone. A lawyer from the attorney general’s office told council members today that if they failed to approve the rules, there would be “greater confusion” about the new policy and state officials could be in “legal jeopardy” if they followed the new law.

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