Iowa lawmakers are bracing for another abortion fight that could gum up the end of the year’s legislative work.
The fight is over Iowa’s narrow exception for allowing public funding of abortion in those cases where a doctor has deemed it necessary and a woman has neither the funds nor insurance coverage for the procedure. Social conservatives in the state hope to ban public funding in any case.
Social conservatives acknowledge that a total funding ban is not likely but they won’t give the fight up regardless. Still, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen said it’s important to get lawmakers on the record about the matter.
“I think it’s important for this caucus and Republicans statewide to fight to protect life anytime we can,” said Paulsen, R-Hiawatha.
Rep. Tom Shaw is leading efforts to end funding. He said the debate is valuable, even if limited public funding for abortions remains. “It is absolutely worth the debate,” said Shaw, R-Laurens. “We, as elected officials, need to stand up for our oath of office. It is a worthwhile debate to have because I can tell you nothing will change if we don’t have the debate.”
Even if the measure were to make it out of the House, it would likely die in the Senate where Majority Leader Michael Gronstal has made it clear that he has no interest in debating abortion again. He noted lawmakers still need to deal with proposed property taxes, school reforms, mental health system changes and agency budgets.
“That’s going to be our focus in the closing weeks of the session,” Gronstal said. “The House and Senate have disagreements and it’s time for us to recognize that continuing to play out those disagreements solves no problems.”
Photo from Ollie Crafoord via flickr.