SF2 is the wrong answer

I was quite disturbed by many of the statements made by Sen. Edler and Rep. Fisher at the Feb. 3 legislative forum, and I questioned the panel on their support of Senate File 2, the “Defund Planned Parenthood” bill. Portions of my exchange with Rep. Fisher were quoted in the Feb. 4 Times-Republican, but I wish to elaborate on my concerns.

It was clear from Rep. Fisher’s and Sen. Edler’s remarks that the intent behind this measure is to reduce abortions performed in the state of Iowa and to eliminate taxpayer funding of abortions. This bill is antithetical to those goals because: a) abortion is still a legal procedure, this bill does not seek to make them illegal, just harder to obtain; b) taxpayer funds ALREADY do not fund abortion services; and c) eliminating a source for affordable birth control and adequate maternal healthcare will result in more unintended and high-risk pregnancies.

When I raised the fact that taxpayer money already does not fund abortion services, Rep. Fisher offered to explain to me how budgeting works. I appreciate Rep. Fisher’s offer, but my 10-year experience of working professionally as an accountant have provided me with a good working knowledge of budgets. I assume he would argue that the fungible quality of money means if even one taxpayer dollar goes to fund Planned Parenthood, that frees up a dollar to subsidize abortions. By that logic, the state would provide no funds whatsoever to the University of Iowa — after all, the UI Hospitals and Clinics offer abortion services. If there truly is no segregation of funding, any dollar we give U of I could free up a dollar to be used for abortions. I suspect Rep. Fisher knows this argument is invalid since he stated that UIHC would “only lose about $50,000 in funding from this bill.”

What this bill ACTUALLY does is dismantle an effective family planning services program at a huge cost to Iowa taxpayers. Currently the Family Planning Network receives 90 cents in federal funds for every 10 cents contributed by the state. This bill forfeits that federal funding and shifts the burden 100 percent to Iowa taxpayers to the tune of $3.4 million, and taxpayer money will CONTINUE to not pay for abortions. We have heard from our elected representatives that we need to “be fiscally responsible” and cut education, public safety, and collective bargaining; is this bill fiscally responsible? If you seek to reduce abortions, you must acknowledge that evidence shows adequate sex education and easy, affordable access to reliable birth control are the best ways to reduce unintended pregnancies. Defunding Planned Parenthood does not accomplish that goal AND costs Iowa taxpayers millions.