'Deplorable and reprehensible': Iowa halts 'victim compensation fund' covering 'emergency contraception'
Iowa GOP Attorney General Brenna Bird's office has paused state funds that cover abortion and emergency contraceptives for survivors of sexual violence, ABC News reports.
The move caught advocates by surprise, according to ABC, as Iowa law mandates the state to "pay many of the expenses for sexual assault victims who seek medical help, such as the costs of forensic exams and treatment for sexually transmitted infections."
ABC reports former Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller required the state's "victim compensation fund" to cover payments for "Plan B, the so-called morning after pill, as well as other treatments to prevent pregnancy."
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Per Des Moines Register, according to state law, the money is "used to directly compensate victims of crimes, and to fund programs that provide them services and train law enforcement and victim services agencies to address human trafficking and domestic abuse."
Des Moines Register reports:
Iowa law requires the state to cover '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 venereal disease,' but makes no mention of contraception or pregnancy risk.
Dollars for the victim compensation fund come from fines and penalties paid by individuals convicted of crimes. No general taxpayer dollars are used for the fund.
Regarding the move, Bird's press secretary, Alyssa Brouillet said, "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."
ABC reports former executive director of the state's victim assistance division, Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, noted that"the longtime policy for Iowa has been to include the cost of emergency contraception in the expenses covered by the fund. She said that in rare cases, the fund paid for abortions for rape victims."
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She emphasized, "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."
Chief Executive Officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States, Ruth Richardson, said the change is "deplorable and reprehensible."
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ABC News' full report is available at this link. Des Moines Register's report is here.
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