Catholic conference supports Iowa budget cuts to abortion providers

Catholic conference supports Iowa budget cuts to abortion providers

Credit: Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock.
Credit: Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock.

.- A budget bill became law in Iowa last week, adding restrictions to grants for abortion providers and Medicaid for gender reassignment surgery.

Tom Chapman, executive director for the Iowa Catholic Conference, told CNA the budget was a step in the right direction.

“There is no obligation to fund abortion providers,” said Chapman. “We’ve been working on that part of the issue for many years so we are very pleased to see that.”

Governor Kim Reynolds signed the Health and Human Services budget bill into law May 3 after it passed through the Senate and House in April. According to the Des Moines Register, the state will fund $1.9 million in health programs, including aid for veterans, elderly people, and children.

The law will also remove a five-year waiting period before pregnant women are covered by Medicaid. These women have to be lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States in order to qualify.

The budget will not provide grants to abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, to administer sexual education. Des Moines Register reported that it will cease $260,000 from being sent to sex information programs of Planned Parenthood. The law will continue to fund the sexual education of numerous other organizations.

According to the NBC 13, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Executive Director Erin Davison-Rippey claimed that the organization provided the same services as other groups: “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.”

Republican Representative Joel Fry argued that the budget is consistent with public opinion: “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.”

Chapman told CNA that funding abortion clinics for these services is unnecessary because other organizations who do not provide abortions administer the same things. He said the new restriction allows for a more objective approach to sex-education.

“I think it presents and opportunity to provide services more objectively if you are separating it from the abortion issue,” he said. “It represents the interests of parents who want to help direct that education,” he further added.

The law would also allow for areas of local government to opt out of Medicaid and other state funds to be used for sex reassignment surgery. Under the bill, the state is not required to fund any “cosmetic, reconstructive, or plastic surgery procedure related to transsexualism, hermaphroditism, gender identity disorder, or body dysmorphic disorder.”

Chapman said that while all people deserve compassion, the Church is clear about the definition of sexual identity. He also said there is no requirement on the government's behalf to fund gender reassignment surgery.

“From the Catholic Church perspective, we believe that there really is no separation from the self and the body. You know, we are one integrated unit as men and women,” he said.

“We have to treat everyone with compassion and proper medical care. I think this is something we have to keep in mind as people are treated. At the same time, I think certainly from the governors perspective and the legislators perspective there is no obligation for the government to pay for those surgeries,” he added.