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Iowa GOP Demand End to Medicaid Abortion Coverage for Rape and Incest Victims

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By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
June 22, 2012|1:17 pm

A group of GOP representatives in Iowa has filed a petition seeking to end Medicaid-paid abortions for victims of rape and incest, while Democrats claim that a ban would not only re-victimize affected women but also threaten the state's entire Medicaid budget.

The government program overseen by the Iowa Department of Human Services currently also covers abortions for fetuses that are physically or mentally deformed, which the Republican lawmakers are seeking to put an end to as well, the Des Moines Register reported.

"The 41 representatives who signed on to the petition want the law followed," Rep. Dawn Pettengill of Mount Auburn said in an email to the Register. "As far as I know, 41 lawmakers have never had to petition an agency to follow the law." Pettengill initiated the request for a ban.

The lawmaker added that current government funding for abortions is "in conflict with the express language and intent of the laws enacted by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor."

Democrats have stood up to oppose GOP efforts, however, with Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, a ranking member of the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, arguing that if Medicaid coverage is cut, it will affect low-income women the most.

"Look who it's going to affect: low-income women who are seeking medical attention for situations of rape and incest," Heddens told The Huffington Post. "You are re-victimizing the woman who is a victim of a serious crime and cannot afford that health care because she is poor."

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Pro-abortion activists have also said that the 1976 congressional action, known as the Hyde Amendment, allows the government to deny abortions, but not when a mother's life is in danger or when a pregnancy results from rape or incest. They claim that going against the amendment could jeopardize the state's entire $1.8 billion annual Medicaid allocation – although Rep. Pettengill is claiming that only around $4 million would be at stake.

"This is a pure political strategy by them to keep their social agenda alive during the election," said Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, who is Senate chairman of the joint Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, where the state's Medicaid money is allocated. "I can't remember when this has happened in the past."

According to statistics, there have been 22 Medicaid-paid abortions in Iowa so far in the fiscal year, with 15 of them based on fetuses with severe anomalies, five to save a mother's life, and two because of rape.

The Iowa Department of Human Services has until Aug. 10 to respond to the request for a ban.

A total of 13 other states have also tried to ban Medicaid-paid abortions, but have been told to follow federal law on the issue. Only South Dakota has a total ban on using Medicaid money for abortions, but it has maintained its funding because the ban has not yet been challenged.

 

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