The Des Moines Register

Anti-abortion program sees changes under recently signed law

- Des Moines Register Galen Bacharier covers politics for the Register. Reach him at gbacharier@registerme­ or (573) 2197440, and follow him on Twitter @galenbacha­rier. Galen Bacharier

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law Wednesday a bill making several adjustment­s to her program that sends state money to anti-abortion pregnancy resource centers across Iowa.

The More Options for Maternal Support (MOMS) program funnels money to centers that counsel women against abortion, offer donated items for new mothers and conduct family planning classes and other services.

After twice failing to hire a thirdparty administra­tor to oversee MOMS, lawmakers opted to allow the state’s Department of Health and Human Service to do so. The department has overseen the program on an interim basis.

Under the new law, a third-party administra­tor is no longer required, and any administra­tor hired would no longer need three years of experience in Iowa to meet the qualificat­ions.

The state’s first search for an administra­tor garnered one applicant that failed to meet the requiremen­ts; the second search yielded “no responsive bidders.”

The bill making changes to MOMS passed the House and Senate on partyline votes.

Republican­s expressed support that the department could oversee the program, praising the centers as a key resource.

“These entities provide necessary safety nets to women in need who want to bring their child into the world,” Rep. Michael Bergan, R-Dorchester, said during House debate last week.

Democrats have criticized both the veracity of the pregnancy resource centers, proposing unsuccessf­ul amendments to require ultrasound­s to be performed by licensed medical providers and for the resource centers to prominentl­y display if they are not licensed.

And they questioned the MOMS program’s efficacy after two unsuccessf­ul administra­tor searches.

“I see the failure to find a suitable administra­tor as a time when we should reflect on the viability of the program that will send taxpayer dollars to pregnancy resource centers,” said Rep. Heather Matson, D-Ankeny.

Lawmakers have allocated $2 million to the MOMS program, and the state has selected four centers to receive state funding.

 ?? LILY SMITH/THE REGISTER ?? Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs Senate File 2096 at the Iowa State Capitol on April 3.
LILY SMITH/THE REGISTER Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs Senate File 2096 at the Iowa State Capitol on April 3.

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