DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Health and Human Services (HHS) Budget Bill passed through both the Iowa House and Senate at the very end of the legislative session, and parts of the bill are raising concerns for some groups.
Representatives at Planned Parenthood said, if signed into law, this bill would block them from receiving grants to teach sex education in schools and communities around the state.
“We’re delivering the same services that other providers are delivering. These are all age appropriate, medically accurate sex education that is generally provided in school settings to young people, sometimes community settings as well depending on the grant,” Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Executive Director Erin Davison-Rippey said.
Rep. Joel Fry, a Republican from Osceola, said in a statement, “The HHS budget will continue to provide grants to organizations that provide Iowa students with sex education. We are continuing to provide the same level of funding as we have in the past, however, abortion providers will no longer be eligible for grants. We have consistently heard from Iowans that they do not want their hard-earned tax dollars used by organizations whose primary business model is providing abortions.”
Davison-Rippey said that as one of the largest providers of sex education in the state, if they are not able to provide these education services, both small and large communities could suffer.
“So, these are programs that would be intended to start in the fall, with young people in school. That may not happen because everything will have to be completely re-done. They’re going to have to try to find new providers to compete for these grants, and it really could put a wrench in the entire system. So we could see impacts to sex education across the board beyond even those folks that are getting services from us,” Davison-Rippey said.
Sen. Jake Chapman, a Republican from Adel, denies that, “It excludes any organization from accessing taxpayer money who also performs abortions. In no way will this amendment harm, reduce, or eliminate sexual education training currently being offered.”
Davison-Rippey said they are not convinced other providers will step up to fill the void if this budget bill becomes law.
“Right now folks could be competing for these grants and they are not. There are a number of communities where we are the only applicant for these funds. So providers could already have the opportunity to compete for those funds and have not. And if we look back at what happened to the state family planning program, where folks use this same argument to say, ‘Oh no, it will be fine. There will be other people that will step up.’ That has not happened,” Davison-Rippey said.
The bill is currently on Gov. Kim Reynold’s desk, awaiting action.