DES MOINES, Iowa – Polk County District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin on Wednesday granted Planned Parenthood of the Heartland a temporary injunction of a new law that restricts abortion providers from receiving taxpayer-funded sex education grants from the state.
Lawmakers added and passed language to the health and human services appropriations bill that said organizations that provide abortions could not access funding from the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and the Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Services (CAPP) program administered by the Iowa Department of Human Services and Iowa Department of Public Health. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law earlier this month. Until the injunction it was set to go into effect on July 1.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland recently received almost $260,000 from these programs during the current fiscal year. According to the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, the organization received funding through CAPP since 2005 and from PREP since 2012.
In 2017, the Iowa Legislature redirected family planning dollars from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to community health centers and clinics across the state.
In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood argues that new law unconstitutionally conditions grant funding on the abandonment of its state constitutional rights to free speech, free association, and substantive due process. They also believe that the new law violates its state constitutional right to equal protection under the law.
When granting the injunction, Seidlin found that Planned Parenthood is likely to succeed on the merits of its equal protection claim and that the loss of the grants would cause irreparable harm to Planned Parenthood.
Supporters of the new law questioned the ruling.
“The ruling ignores Planned Parenthood’s obvious conflict of interest in teaching sex-ed and forgets that Planned Parenthood is under investigation for defrauding the state Medicaid program. What’s more, multiple studies commissioned by the federal government have shown that when Planned Parenthood teaches sex-ed, they either have no impact or cause more pregnancies. Planned Parenthood clearly should not be receiving taxpayer dollars to teach our children,” Drew Zahn, spokesperson for The Leader, told Caffeinated Thoughts.
State Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, championed the amendment to the HHS appropriations bill related to sex education grants, she told Caffeinated Thoughts that she was disappointed by the judge’s ruling.
“(Planned Parenthood) says their equal protection and due process rights are being violated because they are being targeted because they provide abortion services. Well, of course! It is a direct conflict of interest! Abortion providers have no financial incentive to reduce teen pregnancies or to reduce the sexual involvement of teens. On the contrary, they need teens to be sexually active in order to make money. They profit from teen pregnancy! Their goals are the exact opposite of the state’s goals. The state’s goals are for our youth to have character and high morals. Young people should be called up to value themselves, others, and their future, as well as their own mental and emotional health, enough to be abstinent. That best positions them to be productive and contributing citizens in our society. These are the states’ primary goals for our youth in sex education. Abstinence is in direct conflict with the profits of abortion providers. That’s why they have fought it for years,” Salmon told Caffeinated Thoughts in an email.
“Planned Parenthood talks as though they are the only ones who can provide sex education to our youth. That is totally false. There are many providers in Iowa who can do that, both whom the state currently contracts with and others well-qualified who the state does not contract with. They all use a government-approved curriculum. A totally baseless argument,” she argued. “Besides that, no study has been done in Iowa to show that sex education taught by abortion providers reduces teen pregnancies as opposed to sex education taught by non-abortion providers. However, a national study that has been done and has shown that abortion providers’ results are either unimproved or worse for sexual activity and teen pregnancies.”
Salmon also said that the Legislature did not suppress their free speech rights, “They can advocate for what they believe in as much as they want. But why should taxpayers pay for it??”
Salmon noted that the 6th and 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld states’ rights to exclude abortion providers from state contracts of federal grant money for sex education. “I hope our state courts’ will see this wisdom and end up doing likewise,” she said.
Life Right Action President Jenifer Bowen sharply criticized the ruling.
“Polk County District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin wrote, ‘Planned Parenthood would likely be harmed by losing out on grant funding for the upcoming year.’ This reads more like the beginning of a fundraising appeal for Planned Parenthood, Iowa’s largest abortion chain, than a legitimate judicial ruling,” Bowen told Caffeinated Thoughts. “We recommend Judge Seidlin spend some time reading Planned Parenthood’s sex education curriculum for kindergarten through college years. And then determine who is really being ‘harmed,’ Planned Parenthood’s bank account or countless innocent Iowa children?”
Read the ruling below: