Iowa Republicans Attempt to Ban Abortion Funds in Cases of Rape or Incest

Forty-one GOP legislators in Iowa have filed a motion with the Iowa Department of Human Services attempting to halt all government-funded abortion services in the state — even in cases of rape or incest. If successful, Iowa would join South Dakota, the only state that currently denies Medicaid funding for abortion services and could lose millions in federal funding:

More than 80,000 women received health care at family planning programs across the state paid for by Medicaid last year, said Planned Parenthood of the Heartland CEO Jill June.

“If (the petitioners) are successful in discontinuing health care for rape victims like this, how will they make up the shortfall that’s been providing other health services for women who depend on it?” June asked. “They need to answer that.”

Iowa already follows the requirements of the federal Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal dollars on abortion services except in the case of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger. Further limiting financing for abortion services could jeopardize the state’s federal funding stream.

While Rep. Dawn Pettengill (R), who initiated the petition, said the state will only lose about $4 million in Medicaid dollars if the rule changes, abortion rights activists contend that the state is risking $1.8 billion in annual federal Medicaid funding. This is not the first times Iowa Republicans attempted to restrict spending on abortions. In 2011, Republicans risked federal Medicaid funding by adding an amendment to a $6 billion budget bill that would have eliminated government funding on abortions in the case of rape or incest.

One state should serve as a warning to Iowa Repbuplicans: earlier this year, the Obama administration ended all federal funding of the Texas Women’s Health Program after Texas Republicans decided to block abortion providers from participating the program.

ThinkProgress / By Alex Brown

Posted at June 19, 2012, 8:58am

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