Iowa moves to cut Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood

By Timothy Mclaughlin

(Reuters) - The Republican-controlled Iowa state senate voted on Thursday to cut Medicaid funding for family planning services to abortion providers including Planned Parenthood.

State senators passed the bill 30-20, advancing it to the Republican-controlled House. The vote was along party lines, with one independent voting in favor of the measure.

Republican Governor Terry Branstad has said he supports the bill.

Planned Parenthood draws the ire of many Republicans because it provides abortions, and Republican President Donald Trump has pledged to defund the organization.

"This change will allow Iowa to restrict government funding to family planning services away from organizations that perform abortions that are not medically necessary," Republican Senator Amy Sinclair, one of the bill's sponsors, said on Thursday before the vote.

Planned Parenthood denounced the vote.

"The Republican lawmakers who continue to advance this bill should be ashamed of themselves. They are playing political games, with the lives of low-income Iowans at stake," Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said in a statement.

"This bill does nothing to advance their extremist agenda to limit access to abortion. Instead, it blocks access to crucial family planning services for thousands of Iowans – the very services that most effectively prevent abortion. It’s a self-serving, misleading and dangerous political game."

The bill directs the Iowa Department of Human Services to discontinue the Medicaid family planning network waiver on July 1 and replace it with a state family planning services program.

Eligibility requirements for the new network would remain the same, but no funding would be provided to organizations that provide abortions or maintain facilities where abortions are carried out.

Planned Parenthood is Iowa's largest abortion provider with 12 clinics in the state, but no public money is used for abortions, according to the Des Moines Register.

Branstad has proposed paying for the new state-run program by shifting $2.8 million in funds from services for vulnerable adults, families and children, the newspaper reported.

Planned Parenthood is also facing a funding cut in Texas, where a judge is considering the move, which the organization has challenged in court.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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