State tweaks anti-abortion family planning program

Iowa is tweaking its new state-funded family planning program that excludes abortion providers like Planned Parenthood by restoring some eligibility to a large hospital system that performs abortions in some cases.

UnityPoint Health could soon participate again in the family planning program under a budget bill passed this month. It needs approval from Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.

UnityPoint performs abortions in cases where a fetus is not expected to be viable. After Iowa Republicans passed legislation to launch a state-funded family planning program last July, UnityPoint representatives argued some of its health care providers should still participate in the program because those stand-alone facilities don’t perform abortions.

Republican Sen. Mark Costello says the change comes because some within his caucus initially believed the new law wouldn’t impact UnityPoint affiliates. State documents show Republican lawmakers were warned last spring it would.

Planned Parenthood says it’s all legislative backpedaling that highlights GOP lawmakers’ intention to defund its organization.