Iowa Governor Opposes Plan to Define Birth Control as Abortion

Lynda Waddington

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver last week voiced his displeasure with President George W. Bush’s proposed rule change that would redefine birth control as abortion.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver last week voiced his displeasure with President
George W. Bush’s proposed rule change that would redefine birth control
as abortion.

“Redefining certain forms of birth control as abortion is an
unreasonable interpretation of basic contraception and family
planning,” Culver said. “Over 98 percent of all American women will use
contraceptives at some point in their lives. Assuring access to safe,
affordable and reliable forms of family planning is sound public

In a letter sent Aug. 6 to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary
Michael Leavitt Culver called for a block of the proposed Bush
Administration rule change.

… Thirty-four states, including Iowa, have enacted laws
and policies that would be jeopardized due to the proposed definitional
change. These state-based legal protections ensure women’s access to:
birth control, including contraceptive equity in insurance, emergency
contraception for sexual assault victims in the emergency room, and
birth control at the pharmacy.

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As Governor of the State of Iowa, I am very concerned with the
federal government’s efforts to impose upon our state’s rights. This
attempt at overturning legitimately-enacted laws focused on increasing
access to basic health care and family planning is wrong. I strongly
urge you not to proceed with this rule change and to prevent its formal

Iowa is among 27 states that have laws or policies that require
insurance providers that cover prescriptions to provide coverage of the
full range of FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices.

The proposed regulation change defines abortion as “any of the
various procedures — including prescription, dispensing, and
administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any
other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human
being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or
after implantation.” The definition could be interpreted to sweep in
birth control, including emergency contraception, intrauterine devices
(IUDs) and other forms of hormonal contraceptives. This expanded
definition is to be applied based on the providers’ beliefs and could
allow any provider who wants to deny women birth control pills to claim
protection based on a personal belief that such pills fit the
regulatory definition of abortion. Up to 34 states, including Iowa,
would be subject to changes in existing law.

Culver joins a growing coalition of Iowa elected officials who are
opposed to this new rule. Federal office holders Tom Harkin, Leonard
Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, all Democrats, have all voiced
their opposition to the proposed rule change based on the impact it
could create for women in Iowa and across the nation.

“Without consulting doctors or relying on sound science, the Bush
Administration is deciding to change the definition of birth control
for all Americans,” said Jill June, chief executive officer and
president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa. “It’s ludicrous, and
people in Iowa and across the country will not buy it.”

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