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Health

Iowa law restricting sex education funding for Planned Parenthood temporarily blocked

Rita Bettis Austen (left), ACLU of Iowa legal director, and Erin Davison-Rippey, Planned Parenthood’s state executive director for Iowa, answer reporters’ questions during a news conference. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)
Rita Bettis Austen (left), ACLU of Iowa legal director, and Erin Davison-Rippey, Planned Parenthood’s state executive director for Iowa, answer reporters’ questions during a news conference. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)

A Polk County District judge temporary blocked enforcement of a law that would cut Planned Parenthood off from federal sex education funding as court proceedings are underway.

On Wednesday, Polk County District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin granted a temporary injunction on the law that was set to go into effect July 1.

The law, signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this month, would exclude any organization that “provides or promotes abortion” from receiving two grants that support sex education and related services to Iowa youth. These grants are the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and the Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (CAPP).

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa filed a lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland against Reynolds and the state of Iowa.

In the lawsuit, they argue the law was unconstitutional because it violates protections of free speech, due process and equal protection by targeting abortion providers.

In the ruling, the judge wrote Planned Parenthood was likely to be harmed by this law, but the state “will not be injured by receiving services from a qualified provider in exchange for funds that have already been appropriated and intended to be awarded under the CAPP and PREP programs.”

Planned Parenthood was allocated about $265,000 this current fiscal year through these grants, including $85,000 to offer PREP curriculum in Polk, Pottawattamie and Woodbury counties.

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The organization also was awarded $182,000 this year to offer CAPP curriculum in Linn County, as well as in Dallas, Des Moines, Jasper, Lee, Polk, Plymouth and Woodbury counties.

“We are pleased and relieved by today’s ruling, which means young Iowans can still get accurate, reliable information about their bodies and their relationships,” said Erin Davison-Rippey, Planned Parenthood state executive director for Iowa. “... We cannot put the health of our future generations at risk. It’s essential that Planned Parenthood, the trusted provider of comprehensive sex education in Iowa for decades, can continue to provide these important programs.”

Planned Parenthood has applied for funding under these grant programs for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The Iowa Department of Human Services and the Iowa Department of Public Health, which administer the CAPP and PREP programs respectively, had planned to announce award recipients by May 31, according to a news release from ACLU of Iowa.

• Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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