Iowa Republicans pass bill to cut off funding for trans people’s healthcare

Iowa state senator Mark Costello penned the discriminatory amendment

Iowa Republicans have launched an eleventh-hour plot to cut off funding for transgender people’s healthcare.

Republicans in the Iowa Senate launched a surprise attack on Friday (April 26), quietly slipping in an amendment to a crucial healthcare funding bill taking aim at transgender people.

Iowa Republicans ‘slip in’ amendment to cut off transgender healthcare funding

The amendment, penned by Senator Mark Costello, carves a broad exemption into non-discrimination healthcare laws, stipulating that civil rights measures “shall not require any state or local government unit or tax-supported district to provide for sex reassignment surgery or any other cosmetic, reconstructive, or plastic surgery procedure related to transsexualism, hermaphroditism, gender identity disorder, or body dysmorphic disorder.”

Iowa state senator Mark Costello penned the discriminatory amendment

Iowa state senator Mark Costello penned the discriminatory amendment

LGBT+ rights campaigners say the provisions are a “deliberate and brazen attempt to quietly rollback the rights of transgender Iowans,” handing officials the power to indefinitely block transgender healthcare provisions.

The bill had already cleared the Iowa House before the amendment was slipped in, meaning the funding bill has been cleared to head to to the desk of Governor Kim Reynolds despite calls for a vote in the lower chamber on stripping the amendment.

Campaigners hit out at ‘disturbing’ attack on trans people

ACLU of Iowa executive director Mark Stringer said: “The amendment to the Health and Human Services budget bill is dangerous and harmful. It risks people’s health and lives to score political points.

“Banning Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgery would bring significant harm to people who rely on Medicaid and who desperately need this surgery. This is a matter of life and death.

“This cruel amendment has no basis in medicine or science. Every major medical association agrees gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition and that surgical treatment is medically necessary for some transgender people.

“That includes the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the National Association of Social Workers, and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH).

“It is a clear violation of equal protection under the Iowa Constitution because it would discriminate against people simply because they are transgender.”

The bill also seeks to block sex education funding from going to Planned Parenthood, which Stringer warns would “be extremely detrimental for our state and would likely reduce the progress that has been made in reducing the teenage pregnancy rate, among other positive gains in sex education.”

JoDee Winterhof of Human Rights Campaign added: “As a native Iowan, it’s disturbing to see lawmakers in my home state trying to roll back the clock on progress and discriminating against transgender people at the eleventh legislative hour.

“These lawmakers should be focusing on ways to improve the health and wellbeing of all Iowans, not targeting transgender people to win cheap political points.

“Now, Gov. Kim Reynolds should reject this patently discriminatory legislative language.”

Reynolds, a Republican, is yet to say whether she will sign the bill.

In a statement to KCCI, a spokesperson said: “The governor appreciates and will consider all feedback from Iowans on the various pieces of legislation that is now on her desk.

“In the coming weeks, she will review each bill with her policy team and then make a decision.”

Earlier this month, gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was met by anti-gay protesters in Iowa who chanted homophobic messages at him.