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GOP Iowa governor proposes over-the-counter birth control meds

GOP Iowa governor proposes over-the-counter birth control meds
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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) unveiled a new policy proposal that would allow women to get contraception at pharmacies without prescriptions.

Reynolds told The Des Moines Register on Friday that the plan would help extend access to family planning resources, especially in rural communities.

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"I think this is the direction we should go,” Reynolds said. “I think by eliminating some of the barriers and making it available through a pharmacist, it will help reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies and abortions."

Her plan is modeled on states such as Oregon and Utah.

Utah’s plan, the Register noted, requires women to fill out a form regarding the risks of taking birth control pills before receiving the prescription and mandates that they meet with a doctor every two years.

Reynolds, who is up for reelection next month, said she would begin work with the state legislature in January to draft a bill if she remains in office.  

Reynolds’s new proposal comes months after she signed the nation’s strictest abortion ban into law.

The six-week abortion bill, also known as a “heartbeat bill,” requires women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound before the procedure to determine whether the fetus has a heartbeat. If a heartbeat is found, a physician cannot perform the procedure.

Critics of the law say that many women do not even know they are pregnant at six weeks and could miss the window.

The law was temporarily blocked by a judge in June after Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Iowa branch filed a lawsuit against the state. 

A poll released from the Register-Medicom Iowa earlier this month found that most adults in Iowa believe the ban goes too far.

Reynolds told the newspaper that her new contraception plan is not meant as a political response to the abortion debate.

"We can all agree that we want to limit the level of abortions and so access is a way that we can do that," she said. 

She first unveiled the birth control bill during a debate against her gubernatorial opponent, Democrat Fred Hubbell, on Wednesday night.

Reynolds hit Hubbell for being “extreme” on abortion and said he supports late-term and partial-birth abortions, The Register noted.

"I am an unabashed supporter of Roe v. Wade and I have been for a long time," Hubbell responded to applause from the audience. "But at the same time, I don’t support those other procedures that the governor’s talking about, and she knows that. She’s just willing to say almost anything to try to get elected, even though they’re misleading statements."

A survey from late last month found that Hubbell holds a narrow lead, 43 percent to 41 percent, over Reynolds, well within the poll’s margin of error.