Des Moines, Iowa — Today, the Polk County District Court issued an order for a temporary injunction to protect Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s ability to provide sex education to young Iowans through two federal grants, administered by Iowa state agencies.
The temporary injunction will stop enforcement of a law recently passed by the Iowa Legislature and signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds. That law would exclude Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH) from receiving Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (CAPP) funding through the state. The Court will issue a formal injunction later today once PPH takes a procedural step to make it effective.
Today's action will put a temporary block on implementation of the new law until the Court has a chance to fully review the arguments presented by the state and by lawyers representing Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and to determine whether the law is unconstitutional.
While PPH, its patients, and Iowa teens would be harmed by the law, the court recognized that the state "will not be injured by receiving services from a qualified provider [such as Planned Parenthood of the Heartland] in exchange for funds that have already been appropriated and intended to be awarded under the CAPP and PREP programs.”
Earlier this month, the ACLU of Iowa and PPFA filed a lawsuit on behalf of PPH, asking that the law be blocked. Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU of Iowa Legal Director, said "Today's decision is an important step to protect the Iowa teens who rely on Planned Parenthood of the Heartland to provide sex education and teen pregnancy prevention programming in our state. It's also an important step to protect the important fundamental abortion, free speech, and free association rights that are at stake."
Erin Davison-Rippey, the State Executive Director for Iowa, said, “We are pleased and relieved by today’s ruling, which means young Iowans can still get accurate, reliable information about their bodies and their relationships. Planned Parenthood provides state-approved curricula in the very communities where the rates of unintended pregnancy and STDs are among the highest in the state. We cannot put the health of our future generations at risk. It's essential that Planned Parenthood, the trusted provider of comprehensive sex education in Iowa for decades, can continue to provide these important programs."
Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, which includes Iowa said, “Today’s ruling is a victory for young people in Iowa, whose lives and constitutional rights are under attack. We must protect the health of young people and their right to crucial health information. Planned Parenthood will never stop fighting for the health of every young person in Iowa."
The lawsuit is in response to House File 766, a bill passed by the Iowa Legislature and signed into law this month by Gov. Kim Reynolds. The new law would bar organizations that provide abortions or advocate in support of access to safe and legal abortion from receiving certain grants that support sex education for the youth of Iowa. The law excludes Planned Parenthood, which has successfully competed for these funds and used the state-approved curricula to provide sex education to tens of thousands of Iowa youth.
The lawsuit, filed in Polk County District Court, asked the court to temporarily block implementation of the law until it could be further considered by the court. It also asked for a permanent injunction and that the court declare the law unconstitutional.
Sections 99 and 100 of House File 766 bar any organization that “provides or promotes abortion” (or that is an affiliate of or refers to such an organization) from receiving Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (CAPP) grant funding. These grants support sex education and related services to youth in Iowa and require grantees to use state-approved curriculum.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland currently receives funding from both grants and would be excluded from the programs as a result of the new law, despite the organization’s successful track record providing sex education programs for youth across the state. At this time, PPH has grant applications pending for the coming year for both programs. Before today’s court order, the Iowa Department of Human Services and Department of Public Health that sponsor the grant programs had planned to announce award recipients by May 31.
The lawsuit argues that the law is unconstitutional under the Iowa Constitution in the following ways:
- It violates free speech by punishing PPH for its constitutionally protected advocacy for abortion rights and affiliation with other organizations that also advocate for abortion rights and/or provide abortion services.
- It violates due process by denying government funds to PPH because the organization provides access for Iowa women to exercise their constitutionally protected right to safe and legal abortion care.
- It also violates equal protection by singling out abortion providers for defunding.
The temporary injunction order issued today can be found here.