State Auditor questions Attorney General’s review of spending for emergency contraception

DES MOINES — State Auditor Rob Sand says he’s concerned about the length of time the Iowa attorney general is spending on reviewing the practice of using the Crime Victims’ Compensation fund to pay for emergency contraception.

Sand, a Democrat, expressed concern there’s been nothing released since Republican Attorney General Brenna Bird paused the policy when she took office in January of last year. “This is her decision on day one, to quit paying for emergency contraception for sexual assault survivors. And the word salad around that decision, and around what is going on, is nothing more than a way to reduce the clarity of that fact,” Sand says.

Sand says he doesn’t understand why the payments were targeted for review.  “Her consistent use of the word audit has led to questions. So let’s be abundantly clear here. The Attorney General has never asked us to audit payments for sexual assault survivors for emergency contraception,” Sand says. “We are not performing any such audit and there is no third party performing any such audit. There is no audit going on here. There might be an internal review.” Sand says he doesn’t understand what the Attorney General is doing this. “When we conduct audits, we put our attention to areas that have been highlighted for us as problem areas or areas that we believe are high risk. Paying for emergency contraception is not either on either of those lists,” Sand says.

AG Bird’s communications director issued a statement saying the State Auditor and Planned Parenthood are flat wrong and “It is a shame that the auditor is playing politics with a critical audit of victim services and blasting misinformation to boost his own profile.” The statement goes on to say it is not required by Iowa law, but the victim compensation fund has previously paid for Plan B and abortions. It says as a part of her top-down, bottom-up audit of victim assistance, “Attorney General Bird is carefully evaluating whether this is an appropriate use of public funds. That audit is ongoing. Until that review is complete, payment of these pending claims will be delayed.”