With the Iowa Legislature adjourned, Fearless reviews what will affect Iowa women the most

Published by Nicole Grundmeier on

Lawmakers approved numerous plans that will directly affect Iowans before they adjourned April 20. Their inaction on other topics was in some cases just as notable.

Below is a brief survey from Fearless of legislation and other state government developments most directly relevant to women and girls. We intend to tackle some issues in greater depth later this year.


Passed: Senate File 2251 would extend the time some women and babies can remain on Medicaid to 12 months after the end of pregnancy; current law caps it at 60 days. The bill also makes fewer families eligible for Medicaid benefits during and after pregnancy by lowering the income cutoff to 215% of the federal poverty level, down from 375%.

Signed into law: Senate File 2252 softens the requirements for administering Iowa’s two-year-old MOMS program, which subsidizes anti-abortion pregnancy resource centers. The Department of Health and Human Services had not identified a third-party administrator for the program and will now be allowed to work directly with centers.

Failed: House File 2584, a priority of Gov. Kim Reynolds’, would have permitted adults to obtain hormonal contraception without a prescription and required insurance companies to cover such non-prescription birth control. The bill was never debated in the Iowa House or the Iowa Senate.

Failed: House File 2575 dealt with penalties for the destruction of embryos, though critics said its language would threaten the legality and availability of in vitro fertilization. The bill passed the House but did not receive a Senate hearing.

Pending: The Iowa Legislature did not debate any bills pertaining to abortion in 2024, but the Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments April 11 on whether a ban on abortions after six weeks was correctly blocked from taking effect. State regulators have passed rules to implement the ban if an injunction is eventually lifted.


Passed: House File 2489 would require insurance companies to cover diagnostic mammograms – those ordered to investigate a potential concern – in the same way they do screening mammograms. The change, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2025, should reduce out-of-pocket costs for women, and advocates said fewer women will avoid diagnostic mammograms over cost fears.

Passed: House File 2402 addresses Iowa’s children’s mental health system. It would pay higher reimbursements to care providers that address more severe mental health problems and expand services available to children. The bill also orders studies of existing regulatory barriers. Another bill headed to Reynolds’ desk, House File 2673, is a dramatic overhaul of Iowa’s bureaucracy for behavioral health care and substance abuse disorder treatment.


Passed: House File 2658 would require the state to pay higher rates to child care providers that participate in an assistance program that helps low-income Iowans afford child care. It also would extend a pilot program to let child care providers use that assistance for their own children. Nonpartisan analysts estimate the bill would increase spending by about $25 million, with about $17 million of that coming from the federal government.

Failed: Reynolds proposed lowering property taxes on commercial child care facilities as part of a larger tax reform bill. Senators split the idea into its own bill, but the idea did not advance in either vehicle.


Pending: The federal Victims of Crimes Act provides money nationwide to assist victims. Funding is expected to drop by over 40% later this year. State Rep. Brian Lohse said during debate on a budget bill that the situation is fluid and that state lawmakers intend to consider supplemental state funding when they reconvene in January if the federal cuts aren’t reversed.

Pending: A state program to pay for emergency contraception and, occasionally, abortions for sexual assault victims has been on hold since Attorney General Brenna Bird took office in January 2023. Her office told the Des Moines Register in March that an audit of the policy to pay for those expenses is not yet complete.


Failed: The advocacy group One Iowa said on X, formerly Twitter, that the Legislature did not approve any “explicit anti-LGBTQ+ bills” this year. The most prominent bill that failed to advance was one proposed by Reynolds to define “man” and “woman” in Iowa Code. Reynolds said it was necessary to ensure safety in spaces reserved for women; critics dubbed it the “LGBTQ erasure” bill. House File 2389 was never debated in either chamber.


Signed into law: House File 2586 was passed after a January shooting outside Perry High School killed a student and an administrator. The law authorizes schools to allow trained educators to carry firearms on school grounds. Districts can decline to participate. A companion bill before Reynolds, House File 2652, includes additional physical security measures for school buildings.


Signed into law: Senate File 2096 abolished a three-decade-old requirement that the appointed membership of state and local boards and commissions be balanced by gender. Advocates said the requirement was no longer needed. Another bill reduces the number and authority of state boards and commissions.

Signed into law: Senate File 2243 modifies a law making it a felony to possess a visual depiction of a minor appearing to engage in a sex act to specify that the depiction can be a doctored image. Advocates said the law is a response to the rise of child pornography generated using easy-to-access artificial intelligence tools.

Failed: Legislative Democrats introduced several proposals to try to force Iowa to participate in a federal program to provide grocery money in the summer to families whose children receive free or reduced-price school lunches; none received a hearing. House File 575, which was introduced in 2023 and had bipartisan support, would have made reduced-price meals free to families, with the state picking up the tab. It never received a hearing.

Signed into law:House File 2612 increases Iowa teacher pay while overhauling the Area Education Agency (AEA) system that for 50 years has provided special education to students statewide and delivered additional specialized services to school districts. The law gives public school districts more control of how to spend money not earmarked for special education. It also centralizes oversight of special education. The Des Moines Register reported that hundreds of AEA employees have resigned in the past four months.