Pro-life groups push back against Iowa governor’s plan to allow contraception without a prescription
DES MOINES, March 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-lifers in Iowa are raising concerns over a proposal by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds to make birth control available without a prescription, warning that the pro-life governor is overlooking the abortifacient capacity of several types of contraception.
Introduced earlier this month, the legislation would allow trained pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills, hormone patches, and vaginal rings to women upon a consultation and filling out certain forms, but without the need for a prior prescription. Women at least 18 years old would be able to get supply of contraceptives to cover an entire year.
“It’s behind-the-counter. I think we have to be careful about how we reference it,” Reynolds said of the plan which is based on similar arrangements in Oregon and Utah, Fox 28 reports. The governor says the proposal is "the right thing to do."
A three-member Senate panel unanimously approved the plan Wednesday, but the next day it was met with pro-life opposition at a House hearing, the Des Moines Register reports. The bill excludes "any drug intended to induce abortion,” but concerns remain over the abortifacient capacity of drugs that aren’t advertised as such.
"Unfortunately, oral contraception can be abortifacient in nature," Iowans for Life executive director Maggie DeWitte testified, echoing concerns raised by Concerned Women For America of Iowa, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition and the Iowa Catholic Conference. "Some of the ways that the most common hormonal contraception works include abortifacient processes," lobbyist Nathan Oppman of The Family Leader agreed (though his organization is officially undecided at the moment).
"There's no question that Gov. Reynolds is very pro-life and cares deeply for the unborn," DeWitte said in an interview following the hearing, which approved the bill over her objections. "If she's trying to accomplish unintended pregnancies and a reduction of abortion, I just don't think this is the right strategy to go about doing that."
Critics of the plan are correct that common “contraception” methods have the potential to destroy an already-conceived embryo, depending on when they are taken. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Levonorgestrel (more commonly known as Plan B) “may also work by preventing fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg) or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the womb (uterus).” Ella and intrauterine devices (IUDs) also have abortifacient potential.
Reynolds told reporters earlier this week that she was “excited that it’s starting to move through the process,” but her office declined to comment to the Register about the abortifacient controversy.
The debate follows Reynolds’ announcement that she would not be appealing a ruling by Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert striking down the state’s 2018 law banning abortion on babies with detectable heartbeats. While supporters generally argue heartbeat laws are meant to provoke legal challenges that will eventually get the U.S. Supreme Court to review Roe v. Wade, Reynolds argued Iowa’s case was complicated by the fact the Iowa Supreme Court’s claim of a “right” to abortion under the Iowa Constitution rather than Roe.
Iowa pro-life lawmakers hope to resolve this dilemma by working to put a state constitutional amendment before voters that would clarify the Iowa Constitution “does not secure or protect a right to abortion.”