Iowa Legislature looks to fund crisis pregnancy centers

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The Iowa Supreme Court overruled a 2018 decision that protected abortion rights under the state’s constitution Friday.  

The Iowa Legislature is examining multiple bills to address maternal health through the funding of maternal care in rural communities and crisis pregnancy centers.

House File 427 originally had measures to provide over-the-counter contraceptives, however, a bill passed March 16 will provide Iowans with access to over-the-counter hormonal birth control.

To address the healthcare shortage in rural communities, Reynolds wants to create two regional Centers of Excellence to provide care in underserved communities, including maternal care, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Brandon Kamstra, a junior majoring in kinesiology and health who said he leans conservative, is a native of the small town Rock Valley, Iowa, and said he has witnessed the funding issues in local hospitals firsthand.

“We just lost our maternity wing in our hospital, so I mean, more funding for that would be huge so that we can actually hire a surgeon to provide that maternal care to my town,” Kamstra said.

Kamstra said in Rock Valley, women may need to travel at least 20 miles for care.

“I think this will be good for rural communities,” Peterson said.“Rural hospitals struggle a lot and providing more assistance to support rural hospitals is probably a good idea.”

Cody Swank, a junior in human resource management and the president of College Democrats, agreed that this specific measure would benefit rural communities.

“Rural communities are struggling, I mean they are traveling miles and miles just to go to the doctor just because there are none in the area so I do think funding in rural communities is good,” said Swank. “We cannot just pick and choose which hospitals will receive funding specifically because they go with Kim Reynolds beliefs.”

 

Dave Peterson, a professor in political science, said he believes that Gov. Kim Reynolds has deviated from other Republican governors by supporting over-the-counter contraceptive access.

“It’s one place where in particular, Kim Reynolds has deviated from the conservative orthodoxy of a lot of other governors,” Peterson said. “I think she’s been doing a lot of the same things that we’ve seen DeSantis in Florida or Abbott in Texas do, but she’s been a really consistent advocate for the availability of over-the-counter birth control.”

Kamstra said his stance on access to contraceptives has changed over time.

“I think over-the-counter birth control is honestly a pretty beneficial thing,” Kamstra said. “Just generally, that’s kind of an opinion that I’ve changed over recent years because I’ve seen how it’s benefited even students and young adults that are close to my age.”

Kamstra said he wishes there was more funding to build more Centers for Excellence to provide medical care.

“The problem is there’s only two and we’re a large state, you have a lot of land to cover,” Kamstra said.

Kamstra added that privatized hospitals, like the one in Rock Valley, are not as accepting of outside opinions, which makes finding funding more difficult.

This bill will also provide funding for crisis pregnancy centers that provide prenatal and paternal information.

“They have a long history of manipulating women out of their personal decisions and are not legitimate certified medical professionals,” Swank said. “Women who visit these centers do not receive thorough care.”

Peterson also addressed opposing perspectives.

“You know, regardless of what you think about providing abortion services, Planned Parenthood has a reputation for honesty and integrity in its medical practices and the information it provides, and, frankly, crisis pregnancy centers don’t quite meet that standard,” said Peterson.

Kamstra said he believes that there must be some sort of criteria to define these centers.

“I’ve seen so many centers that are very focused on and preventative of abortions, but I’ve also seen centers that are more focused on providing care to the family and giving them resources,” Kamstra said. “So, I think the first concern is are they going to provide funding to all of them, just blanket it, or are they going to actually create criteria that each center is going to need to fulfill.”

Swank and Peterson both acknowledged that the bill has bipartisan aspects that will garner support from both Democrats and Republicans.

“I think there are a handful of Republicans in the legislature who don’t like it [access to birth control], but that’s something popular amongst most Republicans and pretty much all Democrats as well,” Peterson said.

Swank said he believes that, other than funding crisis pregnancy centers, this bill will positively impact Iowans.

“I think it’s probably gonna help more but it’s not exactly what Democrats want,” said Swank. “But, it is something.”