Government

Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood fail in compromise

Iowa Senate agrees to double a tax credit for adoptions

The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Incendiary videos purportedly showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organs from aborted fetuses contributed to the prolonged Iowa legislative session that came to a close Friday.

“I think it was a motivating factor,” Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mount Pleasant, said about Republicans’ attempt to keep state funds from going to Planned Parenthood or any organization that performs abortions. “It put it up on the front burner, believe me.”

Although she believes the videos, which were released starting last summer by an advocacy group, have been discredited, Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, agreed they contributed to a stalemate on the budget that went 10 days beyond the scheduled April 19 adjournment.

“It became part of their national effort to defund Planned Parenthood,” she said.

In the end, Senate Democrats successfully resisted GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, Iowa’s largest abortion provider, as they have in each of the past five years.

House and Senate conference committee members reached agreement Friday on House File 2460, the $1.836 billion human services budget.

But a compromise that doubles the adoption tax credit while continuing to fund Planned Parenthood as long as state dollars do not pay for abortions didn’t sit well with some Republicans opposed to abortion rights. Seven voted against HF 2460, which was approved 51-41. The Senate passed it 26-19.

The deal shows “pro-life Iowans cannot count on Republicans to deliver for them,” Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, said. He expects abortion funding and end-of-life issues like the proposed “death with dignity” legislation that was introduced during this session to be major themes in the fall political campaigns.

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Lawmakers opposed to abortion rights preferred a compromise proposed by House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, to create a state grant program for 211 federally qualified organizations that provide women’s health services and oppose abortion. That was rejected by Senate Democrats who, according to Heddens, didn’t see any advantage in defunding Planned Parenthood and walking away from the family planning services already in place.

“Why dismantle something that is working so well?” she asked. The agencies Upmeyer wanted to fund don’t have the same range of services or geographic coverage as Planned Parenthood, Heddens said.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has said about $2.7 million, slightly more than one-quarter of the funding for its Iowa clinics, comes from public funds such as Medicaid. Iowa officials have said no state money goes directly to pay for abortions.

Democrats did accept a GOP proposal to double the one-time adoption tax credit to $5,000 — an estimated $800,000 cost in fiscal 2017.

Johnson was among those disappointed with the agreement because it “doesn’t address spending tax dollars on taking the lives of unborn children.”

In the end, Upmeyer said, “as much as we would like to expand the opportunities for women’s health services in a much broader fashion, (Democrats) feel just as strongly they don’t want to take that approach.”

She promised it won’t be the end of the discussion.

“For sure, that will be on the table the next time we have the conversation,” Upmeyer said.

After the November election, House Republicans will “start a plan of action to deal with the dynamics we will have in the next Legislature,” Heaton said.

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