DES MOINES, Iowa -- As Democratic State Senator Nate Boulton referenced a Supreme Court decision from 1973 that legalized abortion throughout America, tensions rose to record levels within the Senate floor.
"Our debate in this room does not replace the Supreme Court ruling of the United States and the conclusions they reached in 1973. Our debate in this room affects real Iowans who receive real services. Today our focus needs to be on those Iowans."
State Senator and Republican Amy Sinclair later fired back at her colleague across the aisle. "Senator Boulton, I'm surprised at you. The 1973 ruling, I don't know how old you are but your mom could have chosen for you to not be here," said Sinclair.
The Republican Senator later apologized to both Senator Boulton and his mother. The bill, passed by the Senate 30-20, championed by Republicans, would strip state funds from family planning services that provide abortions like Planned Parenthood.
"It will inevitably increase the number of unplanned pregnancies. It will increase the number of abortions. It is a pro abortion bill and we should all vote no," said Democratic Senator Herman Qurimbach. By opting the state out of the Medicaid family planning network waiver, a new state family planning service program will be made to funnel money to organizations that do not provide abortions. Senator Sinclair said, "All of the same requirements of the existing program will be the requirements of the new program with the exception of funds going to abortion providers."
Republicans say the only increases anyone sees will be accessibility. "There is room for expansion. I have a list of over sixty providers that could join the team, if you will," said Sen. Sinclair. Laura Hessburg, with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, along with Senate Democrats, disagreed. "I respect all the legislators but frankly they are wrong, this bill will not improve access."
As the Iowa flag flies high above the Capitol, on it reads the state motto, "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain." It's a motto opponents of the bill say, GOP leaders in the Senate have turned a blind eye to. "It is a really sad day. I think it speaks volumes about the priorities that legislators place on the needs of their citizens," said Hessburg. Supporters of the bill, like Sen. Ken Rosenboom, say those citizens may also include unborn Iowans. "Senate File 2 speaks to saving the lives of unborn children and I will continue to advocate for that and teach my grandchildren to do the same."
There is no concrete plan that would fund a new state-run family services program but Governor Branstad has recommended taking money from an organization that serves vulnerable children and families. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives which returns to session on Monday.