- Megan Srinivas and Austin Baeth are both physicians; both serve in the Iowa House of Representatives as Democrats representing portions of Des Moines.
Iowans come from all different walks of life, and from every corner of our state. But no matter what our background is, every one of us deserves good health care and accurate health information. As medical professionals and legislators, we know the best way to deliver quality care is investing our tax dollars in scientifically proven methods that prioritize patients and the health of our state.
But for that to happen, we need elected officials who will put the people of Iowa and our health care first. Far too often, Gov. Kim Reynolds has put her political agenda ahead of what would allow Iowans to live the healthiest life possible. We should be passing legislation that encourages education and access to resources doctors know you need. But for years, Reynolds has taken those resources away. In 2017, her agenda forcedfour Planned Parenthood clinics to close. Those clinics provided sexually transmitted infection tests, contraception, and cancer screenings at no cost to patients on Medicaid in Burlington, Bettendorf, Sioux City, and Keokuk. After Reynolds slammed the door on those health clinics, Sexually transmitted infections more than doubled in the counties where they closed. It also cost Iowans $3 million in federal Medicaid funds for family planning services. Then in 2019, Reynolds was at it again. She slashed funding for sex education and access to reproductive health care.
Limiting health care options has hurt Iowans, made us less healthy, and in some cases put lives at risk. Even while facing those disastrous impacts, Reynolds has not learned her lesson. Now she is trying to send millions of our hard earned tax dollars to anti-abortion clinics. They dishonestly call themselves “crisis centers,” but the facts are clear. The American Medical Association says those visiting these centers “do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all available options.”
We are all doing our best to stay healthy and wade through one opinion after another, especially online. As doctors, we understand. We want Iowans to have access to good information. But no one should be deceived or manipulated when seeking support for pregnancy options, parenting, and health care. We all care about someone who has had or will have an abortion. We must protect their right to make that decision. Every Iowan deserves accurate information so that they can decide what is best for their health and well-being, including how they can provide for a child, should they have one.
The anti-abortion clinics Reynolds wants to fund are a problem for our state. They are not an appropriate use of the tax dollars that we all contribute to the state. These clinics rarely have medical providers on site and do not seek to provide care. Instead, they use shame and fear, often while wearing a lab coat, with the single-minded goal of talking people out of getting an abortion. Their manipulation can cause real damage, and delay people from getting the medical care they want and deserve. Their dishonest tactics hit hardest on the populations anti-abortion clinics target — communities of color and people experiencing financial insecurity, which adds an additional hurdle to care for people that are already marginalized by health care systems and policy.
Instead of funding deception and misleading programs, Iowa should invest in resources for parents, improvements to prenatal care, and respect and support for people seeking abortion care. We should not send our tax dollars to unethical, deceptive operations. We should bolster legitimate health care and social services programs that help families make ends meet and provide accurate information and care. Our goal as doctors and legislators will be carrying that message to our colleagues and the governor during this year’s legislative session.
Megan Srinivas and Austin Baeth are both physicians; both serve in the Iowa House of Representatives as Democrats representing portions of Des Moines.