See more of our coverage on the effects of the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) said Monday that he had directed state agencies to review the government funding of programs operated by Planned Parenthood in the state.
“We are to look at the contracts and see what our rights and responsibilities are. I want to protect the interests of the taxpayers,” Branstad said, reported the Des Moines Register.
The review ordered by Branstad comes as Republican governors from four other states have ordered contracts with Planned Parenthood to be cancelled, despite the warnings that cutting the reproductive health-care providers from their respective Medicaid programs likely violates federal law. The warnings were issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that runs the Medicaid program.
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Many anti-choice activists and politicians have called for hearings and investigations into Planned Parenthood after the release of a series of videos published by the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress, which feature heavily edited footage of secretly taped conversations with Planned Parenthood officials.
Branstad spoke Saturday at the “Truth Exposed” anti-choice rally at the Iowa capitol, which was held in response to the Center for Medical Progress video and sponsored by the Iowa Right to Life.
“We want to see that no tax money in this state has gone in the past or will in the future to fund abortion or abortion-related services,” Branstad said at the rally. “In the past two years I’m proud to say that no Medicaid-funded abortions have occurred in the state of Iowa.”
Branstad personally decides which abortions are covered by Medicaid.
Branstad said that he is working with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to defund Planned Parenthood on the federal level. Ernst took a leading role in the failed attempt by congressional Republicans to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for services unrelated to abortion.
To date, no investigations have uncovered any evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates have broken any laws with regard to fetal tissue.
Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement that the organization plays an outsized role in providing affordable health care to nearly 38,000 women and men in Iowa each year. The organization provides health and sexual health education programs in the state, she continued, reaching 44,000 people through more than 2,500 programs in schools, community health centers, and correctional facilities.
“As Governor Branstad reviews the contracts that fund these programs, we certainly hope he will also carefully consider the impact that these programs have had on reducing rates of unintended pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections in Iowa, as well as increasing access to family planning services like well-woman exams and contraception,” de Baca said.