Lawmakers in the Iowa Senate have passed a bill that would allocate $1 million to pregnancy resource centers that provide help for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. The bill also extends Medicaid coverage for the postpartum period. Senate Bill 2381 passed with a vote of 32-16 and now heads to the House for consideration.
Senator Mark Costello, the bill’s sponsor, calls it the “More Options for Maternal Support,” or “MOMS” bill. Costello said he had hoped that the bill would receive more bipartisan support, but instead abortion supporters saw it as an effort to restrict abortion. According to the Des Moines Register, the bill does stipulate that the funds may not be used to provide abortions, refer women for abortions, or encourage or counsel a woman to get an abortion.
“We’re just trying to help make it rare, to help provide women with the support that they need to feel comfortable making that decision to have that baby,” Costello said. “And so I think it makes a step forward.”
According to Iowa Public Radio, the state currently offers Medicaid health insurance coverage for the first 60 days after childbirth. This bill extends that coverage to a full year. Senator Chris Cournoyer spoke in support of the bill and said that the extended Medicaid coverage provides more help for mothers who might experience postpartum depression or other health issues in the year following birth.
Despite the obvious efforts to help women in need, Planned Parenthood issued a statement against the bill with the complaint that pregnancy resource centers are deceptive simply because they do not offer abortions.
“Not only is this bill dangerous, but it also puts the health of Iowans, many of whom don’t know about [crisis pregnancy centers’] deceptive practices and lack of actual health care,” said Sheena Dooley, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa. “And it diverts taxpayer dollars that could be used to expand affordable, high-quality reproductive health care during a time when Iowa faces multiple health crises.”
While it’s true that pregnancy resource centers do not offer abortions, they instead provide real, tangible help to women in need, for free — help that they won’t find at Planned Parenthood. Most offer things like baby food, clothing, diapers, formula, furniture, car seats, and anything else a pregnant or new mother would need for her baby, in addition to the ability to connect young families with social support services. In 2019 alone, more than two million women took advantage of these services. Countless women have spoken of the way these pregnancy resource centers have helped them.
Cournoyer spoke of her optimism about how this bill will help mothers. “This bill helps provide support and resources so women don’t think that abortion is their only option,” she said.
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