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Iowa halts payment for contraception or abortion for sex assault victims pending review

Iowa is reviewing sex crime victim assistance, by order of its new AG, and has paused payment for emergency contraception and abortion.

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Iowa pauses emergency contraception and abortion for sex crime victims

The new Attorney General of Iowa has announced a pause in payment for contraception or abortion for sex assault victims. This pause is part of a comprehensive audit of state-sponsored crime victim assistance.

Iowa action

Attorney General Brenna Bird announced her decision on Friday (April 7), according to the Associated Press.

As a part of her top-down, bottom-up audit of victim assistance, Attorney General Bird is carefully evaluating whether this is an appropriate use of public funds. Until that review is complete, payment of these pending claims will be delayed. Alyssa Brouillet, press secretary, Iowa attorney general’s office

Federal relations, and current Iowa law, require the state to pay for certain services to sexual assault victims who seek medical attention. This includes forensic examination and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. But Bird’s predecessor, Tom Miller, added payment for emergency contraception, and rarely, abortion. The contraception involved was “Plan B One-step” (levonorgestrel 1.5 mg), which prevents ovulation but not fertilization or implantation. In fact the FDA recently approved a change in the package insert to correct an earlier misapprehension on that point.

According to The Daily Caller, current law does not explicitly state that it covers emergency contraception or abortion. Even according to the AP, the law requires coverage only for:

the cost of a medical examination of a victim for the purpose of gathering evidence and the cost of treatment of a victim for the purpose of preventing [sexually transmitted] disease.


The AP cited another event that might or might not be relevant. Federal Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, issued a “stay of approval” for mifepristone, which is an abortifacient. A lawsuit challenging the FDA approval on the grounds of excessive danger of the drug is now before his court. (Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al. v. FDA et a., case 2:22-cv-00223-Z.)


Ruth Richardson, CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, called the Iowa pause “deplorable and reprehensible.”

Sandi Tibbetts Murphy once directed the victim assistance division under former AG Miller. She insisted that payment for contraception and abortion was a long-standing policy. But she perhaps could not say that this policy predated Miller’s tenure in the office. Miller had already served ten terms as Attorney General – until Bird challenged him last Midterms, and won.

My concern is for the victims of sexual assault, who, with no real notice, are now finding themselves either unable to access needed treatment and services, or are now being forced to pay out of their own pocket for those services, when this was done at no fault of their own.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.


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