The Iowa Supreme Court says the state can block Planned Parenthood from conducting sex education programs in public schools.
“The state could also be concerned that using abortion providers to deliver sex education programs to teenage students would create relationships between the abortion provider and the students the state does not wish to foster in light of its policy preference for childbirth over abortion,” Justice Dana Oxley wrote in the majority opinion, according to media reports.
The Iowa law banning abortion providers from conducting sex education programs was passed by the Republican-led legislature more than two years ago but was held up by a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood saying it violated the organization's right to equal protection.
State court Judge Paul Scott ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood in 2020, but the decision was appealed by the state.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who signed the original legislation into law, said the state Supreme Court decision is “a strong statement in support of the idea that taxpayer dollars should not fund abortion” and that she is “proud to be a pro-life governor who will protect all innocent life.”
Planned Parenthood will no longer receive grants from the state to teach sex ed, but the court said the organization’s ability to provide abortions will not be affected.
Only one of the state's Supreme Court judges, who is also the only Democratic appointee on the court, opposed the decision.
“This is a disappointing day for young Iowans who have relied on Planned Parenthood for more than a decade to provide them with comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education,” Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said in a statement.
“Today’s decision is a major setback for public health. Parents agree that young people need medically accurate information to make healthy decisions that will determine the trajectory of their lives. As Iowa’s largest sex education provider, we are committed to our critical sex education programs, and we are invested in continuing this important work,” Stoesz added.