Abortion providers, not teachers
For now, Iowa can keep Planned Parenthood out of the government-funded sex education
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the state can keep Planned Parenthood from using government grants for sex education programs. A little over a year ago, a lower court ruled a 2019 law preventing abortion providers from offering state-sponsored sex education on the government’s dime was unconstitutional. But the justices in Wednesday’s ruling disagreed with the abortion business’s complaint that the law didn’t serve legitimate governmental interests.
Planned Parenthood had offered sex education using government grants for years. Grant recipients weren’t allowed to use curriculum that addressed abortion, and the state acknowledged Planned Parenthood hadn’t broken that rule. But the court noted that the state still had concerns.
“It is clear from the record that [Planned Parenthood of the Heartland] is a vocal advocate in support of a woman’s right to obtain an abortion and in its provision of abortion-related services,” wrote Justice Dana Oxley in the court’s opinion. “Even if the [state’s sex education] programs do not include any discussions about abortion, the goals of promoting abstinence and reducing teenage pregnancy could arguably still be undermined when taught by the entity that performs nearly all abortions in Iowa.”
Oxley said the state had a valid interest in keeping schoolchildren from forming relationships with an abortion provider. The state of Iowa’s policy has shown a priority of choosing childbirth over abortion.
Justice Brent Appel dissented, accusing the state legislature of “trying to accomplish indirectly what it cannot do directly: namely, attack abortion rights.”
Iowa Right to Life and The Family Leader were a part of a coalition of pro-life groups that lobbied on behalf of the bill in 2019 and supported the court’s choice to let the law stand. “Its own curriculum and literature encourages non-parental consent for issues related to sex and teen sex issues, which is also of alarm,” said Iowa Right to Life director Kristi Judkins in an email, referring to the Planned Parenthood educational materials. “Due to their prior bad acts, they do not have a good track record related to sex education instruction.”
Judkins expects the court battle over the law will continue. But, to pro-life groups in Iowa, the fight is worthwhile. “The most important implication is that a prominent abortion provider in our state does not have an undue advantage over marketing services to Iowa’s young people,” she added. “It preserves the right of Iowans to keep their tax dollars from funding [Planned Parenthood].”
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