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Inside the Iowa House: Reproductive Freedom (March 25, 2023)

All session long, we’ve been working on priorities that a majority of Iowans support and turning those into legislation that will impact the lives of Iowans. We know folks are tired of politics and division they just want lawmakers to work together to make their lives a bit better. One of the priorities we’ll be working on for the remainder of session is reproductive freedom. I firmly believe that everyone deserves the right to make their own healthcare decisions, especially when it comes to reproductive care and abortion. Lawmakers and politicians have no place interfering in someone else’s decisions about when or how to start a family. I recognize this topic has become a centerpiece in the on-going culture wars right now.  It seems any rational conversation about reproductive healthcare has been taken over by folks just trying to gain political ground.  It’s so frustrating. But reproductive freedom can’t be ignored just because it has become so political. And, frankly,  Iowans don’t want us to ignore it either.  We know that a strong majority of Iowans support reproductive freedom and believe that private healthcare decisions belong between an individual, their family, and their doctor.Here are a few common sense things we can do this session to protect reproductive freedom and make a difference in the lives of Iowans. Make birth control accessible through a pharmacist without a prescription. Our plan would allow Iowans to access birth control safely and easily via a pharmacist. Pharmacists, especially in rural Iowa, are an important resource and critical access point for care and could help mitigate barriers and expand access to contraception. Pharmacists in 20 other states are already able to prescribe birth control without a prescription from a doctor.Extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months.  Thanks to a recent change to federal law, states are now able to provide pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage for up to a year after a baby is born.  It would be a major improvement from the current 60 day limit in Iowa, which leaves too many moms without health coverage at all.  As maternal mortality continues to rise here in Iowa, this would save lives and reduce barriers to accessing both healthcare and mental health care.Guarantee reproductive freedom by adding it to Iowa’s Constitution. When the U.S. Supreme Court essentially sent this issue back to the states last summer, we started working on ways to make sure Iowans still have access to reproductive care. While the issue is still tied up in the courts right now, the best thing we can do is to guarantee reproductive freedom in Iowa’s Constitution. While it’s a long process to change our constitution, we should start now and give Iowans the final say on it.Restore family planning programs under Medicaid. Several years ago, the Governor and GOP lawmakers cut access to reproductive healthcare programs that resulted in a rise in the abortion and Sexually Transmitted Infections rates in Iowa. Since it obviously had the opposite effect it was intended to, we should restore those services and make them accessible to Iowans again.  While these ideas won’t all happen before we adjourn, there is plenty of common ground we can find with the Governor and other lawmakers.  If we can put politics aside and ignore the culture wars, there is a path to give Iowans the reproductive freedom they deserve.

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