Flurry Of Laws Enacted On Women’s Access To Health Care

By Christine Vestal

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Danielle Wells, a spokeswoman on state policy issues for Planned Parenthood says that the flurry of state legislative activity on women’s health issues this year is a direct result of the federal policy shifts on women’s health since President Donald Trump took office.


As Washington moved to reduce federal funding for women’s health this year, adversaries in the war over affordable birth control and other women’s health services shifted the battleground to state capitals, resulting in a spate of new laws that both expand and contract women’s access to care.

It happened quickly in Iowa. In May, then-Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. Medicaid dollars stopped flowing to the group July 1, and four of the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics closed within a week.

That left nearly 15,000 women in small communities without access to reproductive health services, including cancer screenings, birth control, testing for and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and annual checkups.

Medicaid pays for three-quarters of all publicly supported women’s health programs. So when Iowa abruptly cut off Medicaid dollars to Planned Parenthood, it was game over, said Jodi Tomlonovik, executive director of the Family Planning Council of Iowa, which oversees distribution of federal and state money to women’s health clinics.

Iowa’s law, which applies to Planned Parenthood and any other women’s health clinics affiliated with a group that performs abortions, may also defund women’s clinics in the state’s largest health care system, UnityPoint Health, as well as the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, because certain clinics in both groups perform abortions in cases of fetal abnormalities, she said.

In three other states with GOP governors and legislatures, Arizona, Kentucky and South Carolina, 2017 state budgets that exclude Planned Parenthood and other women’s health clinics affiliated with an abortion provider from all state and federal funding may have similar effects on local clinics.

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