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Legislative adjournment delayed by sex reassignment measure

April 26, 2019 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Efforts to end the Iowa legislative session have been delayed by a last-minute amendment from conservative Republicans who are seeking to prohibit the use of Medicaid funding to pay for sex-reassignment surgery.

Backers of the Friday afternoon amendment to a Health and Human Services funding bill say the prohibition on using federal or state money for sex reassignment surgery is a response to an Iowa Supreme Court decision. The ruling last month said the state cannot deny two transgender women Medicaid coverage for such a surgery.

Republican Sen. Jake Chapman says his constituents believe “this is an elective surgery that if Iowans want to do, that’s fine but not with our taxpayer dollars.”

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Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen called the amendment a mean-spirited attempt at discrimination. By raising the issue so late, she says Republicans prevented Democrats from amending the proposal.

The measure also would prohibit government money from paying for sex education programs by Planned Parenthood.

The Senate passed the bill 31-19. The bill was to be heard in the House later.