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overnor defends surgery law amid travel ban

DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa's governor is defending a law she signed earlier this year that prohibits Medicaid payment for gender reassignment surgery after California's attorney general prohibited state-funded travel to Iowa.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday added Iowa to a list of 10 other states for which state-funded travel isn't allowed because they violate a 2017 California law that guards against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill in May that reversed an Iowa Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing protection under the Iowa Civil Rights Act for Medicaid-funded gender reassignment surgery.

Becerra says California takes an unambiguous stand against discrimination. He says the California prohibition on state-funded or sponsored travel to Iowa begins in October.

Reynolds on Wednesday defended the law as a narrow provision clarifying longstanding state policy in response to the court ruling. A lawsuit challenging the new law is now before the Iowa Supreme Court.

After justifying the law, Reynolds described California, home to more than 10% of the U.S. population, as a state with high taxes, excessive business costs and expensive housing.

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