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Judge blocks Iowa from cutting Planned Parenthood out of sex ed business

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DES MOINES, May 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — An Iowa judge has temporarily blocked the state from denying sex education grants to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH), pending a hearing on the merits of the case.

In early May, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an almost $2 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which among other provisions excluded any organization involved in abortions from receiving state sex education grants, a change that stands to deprive PPH of just over $260,000.

“The HHS budget will continue to provide grants to organizations that provide Iowa students with sex education,” Republican state rep. Joel Fry explained. “We are continuing to provide the same level of funding as we have in the past, however, abortion providers will no longer be eligible for grants. We have consistently heard from Iowans that they do not want their hard-earned tax dollars used by organizations whose primary business model is providing abortions.”

The Iowa chapter of the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit to block the defunding, and Polk County District Court judge Joseph Seidlin temporarily barred it from taking effect Wednesday, The Gazette reports.

In his ruling, Seidlin ruled that while “favoring childbirth over abortion” could “certainly be a legitimate government interest,” such an interest is also “completely unserved by this legislation,” because the funds in question “have nothing to do with the issue of live birth or abortion,” and the “same prohibition on the use of grant money for abortion related reasons remains.”

He also rejected the state’s interest that teens “receive sexual education and teen pregnancy prevention programming from entities other than those for whom abortion represents a significant revenue stream” because, among more technical reasons, “what basis in fact could there be that providers of legal abortions have less scruples than anyone else?”

Seidlin concluded that “PPH is likely to succeed on the merits of its equal protection claim” and in the meantime would be harmed by “los[ing] the opportunity to obtain substantial annual grant money to continue to provide sexual education and teen pregnancy prevention programs under CAPP and PREP funding that it has been participating in for some time.”

In response to the decision, The Family Leader policy liaison Daniel Sunne wrote at the Des Moines Register that according to a report from the Obama-era U.S. Office of Adolescent Health, Planned Parenthood’s Teen Outreach Program in the Pacific Northwest found that, across six different Planned Parenthood affiliate partners, more than 3,500 students, and 87 schools, left students “significantly more likely than controls to have ever been pregnant or to have caused a pregnancy.”

“In fact, the only study I could find showing positive effects from a Planned Parenthood–led sex ed program was commissioned and paid for by the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts,” Sunne wrote.

Pro-lifers further argue that Planned Parenthood cannot be trusted to oversee sex education, based on its record of curricula and resources that encourage underage sexual activity via topics such as condoms, BDSM, and anal and oral sex, and advice such as that losing virginity is “all about picking the right age for you” and how to procure birth control without parents’ knowledge. Pro-lifers also suspect that all of this is in service to Planned Parenthood’s profits, which present a fundamental conflict of interest when it comes to teaching children about sexual responsibility and restraint.

As for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s “scruples,” in 2016, a state auditor in neighboring Nebraska concluded that the organization illegally billed federal Title X family planning services, which are meant to fund contraception, STDs, and breast and cervical cancer screenings, for abortion procedures instead.

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