The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | Iowa’s over-the-counter contraceptive bill is dampened by conservative amendments

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ bill expanding easy access to birth control with over-the-counter contraceptives is getting dampened with conservative amendments, defeating the purpose of the bill itself. When are we going to see effective change to better access to birth control, instead of backing women into a corner with each conservative bill and amendment?

Iowans deserve better access to birth control and over-the-counter contraceptives.

On Feb. 19, the Iowa House advanced House File Bill 2584, formerly known as Iowa House Study Bill 642, allowing pharmacists to distribute non-prescription hormonal birth control over-the-counter.  Since then, Republican lawmakers have thrown punch after punch with conservative amendments to the bill.

While the bill covers oral contraceptives, vaginal rings, and patches, it does not include drugs that induce abortions.

Iowa lawmakers must allow women easier access to contraceptives because those with financial constraints may not be able to regularly see a health care provider for check-ups.

According to Iowa Capital Dispatch, Gov. Kim Reynolds has pushed for this legislation since 2019 to expand access to birth control and reduce abortions. This bill would have been a step in the right direction toward allowing women total financial governance of how and when they can get contraceptives.

This February, a poll by the Des Moines Register concluded that 79 percent of Iowans support over-the-counter access to birth control. The people in our state largely agree that women should not have to scavenge for contraceptives. Furthermore, women should not have to drain their wallets to pay for regular doctor visits to be allowed to take a contraceptive pill to guard their bodily autonomy.

A study published in February by the Guttmacher Institute states that since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, there was a “6-to 12-percentage-point decrease” in access to contraceptive care checkups or prescriptions in Iowa, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.

In 2022, Power to Decide, a pro-choice organization, concluded in its fact sheet that 176,550 Iowa women in need don’t have easy access to all contraceptive methods. Out of that group, 49,620 women live in counties without a health care center to provide those methods, exemplifying Iowa’s ongoing maternal health care crisis.

According to Iowa Starting Line, Iowa House Republicans introduced damaging amendments in March that defeat the purpose of the bill itself.

Two amendments, both proposed by Rep. Luana Stoltenberg, R-Davenport, restrict the maximum supply of birth control a pharmacist can give to an amount equaling four months and shorten the original check-up requirement from every 27 months down to every seven months.

There are also a few rather peculiar amendments to the bill that equate taking preventative contraception to abortions, disregarding that both are routine, medically safe procedures. One amendment would require pharmacists to tell customers about options outside of abortions and the risks of abortion. Another, arguably the most strange, would require the customer to view the “Meet Baby Olivia” video, which portrays fetal development from the distorted and medically inaccurate lens of the anti-abortion group called Live Action. The customer would need to sign an agreement that they had viewed the video before receiving their medication.

All this for a birth control pill?

This is not shocking at the very least, as conservative lawmakers, especially in Iowa, are obsessed with the “Meet Baby Olivia” video. Iowa Republicans introduced a separate bill in March to show this propaganda to children in schools.

It is maddening to watch Iowa lawmakers back women further into a corner with each of these amendments. Iowa, along with many other states, routinely shames women into feeling guilt for preventing pregnancies. Conservative lawmakers want to convince women that their lives are less important than the cluster of cells that may eventually sit inside their womb.

These amendments are embarrassing for our state and lawmakers, and especially damaging to the women in need of easy access to contraceptives and deserving of a supportive transaction. Iowa women deserve to have easy and seamless access to contraceptives without the requirement of excessive doctor check-ups that they would have to pay extra for or the forced viewing of anti-abortion propaganda.

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About the Contributor
Natalie Nye
Natalie Nye, Opinions Columnist
Natalie Nye is a fourth-year Journalism/Mass Communication student with a minor in art at the Univeristy of Iowa. She is an opinions columnist at The Daily Iowan and a freelance writer for Little Village magazine. She also has her own blog, called A Very Public Blog.