Iowa Republicans Again Force Showdown Over Medicaid Coverage of Abortions for Rape, Anomalies


Iowa Republicans are taking yet another stab at removing all Medicaid funding for abortion in the state, this time writing an amendment into the state budget requesting that the funding be eliminated. Although the roughly 20 abortions per year that get paid that way are a result of either rape or fetal anomalies, strident anti-choice politicians have made removing that last vestige of assistance for poor women a vendetta since 2011.

Abortion opponents tried and failed to strip Medicaid coverage via a budget amendment in both 2011 and 2012, and sought out an “emergency rule” maneuver to strip it after the 2012 budget amendment failed. Iowa Right to Life condemned the governor’s office for blocking the emergency rule, declaring that it would seek other ways to “fix” the allowance of fetal anomaly abortions being funded by the state.

The “fix,” if this year’s legislative session and outside rallying is any indication, is to once more lump rape victims in with individuals whose pregnancies are compromised, and refuse to fund any abortions whatsoever. A new “no funding ever, even in cases of rape and anomaly” amendment was proposed by state Sen. Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton); it failed to pass the Senate.

Now, the state house has passed its own amendment, after GOP house leaders threatened to refuse to pass the budget without it. The added language will force the two bodies to once more fight it out in order to get a completed budget to the governor for approval.

This continued effort comes just days after anti-choice political groups in Iowa rallied at the state house, demanding support for bills that would end Medicaid funding of every abortion for every reason, even if that means a complete logjam in governing. The Des Moines Register reported that “Greg Baker, the Family Leader’s political director, said lawmakers who oppose abortion need to take a ‘hard stand’ and to remain firm as long as necessary, even though it will be difficult when June arrives and there is increased pressure to pass a state budget.”

So once again, the state is likely to end its legislative session in another acrimonious, last-minute budget fight. For the third year in a row, a handful of lawmakers may hold the entire state budget hostage at the urging of anti-choice lobbyists, all for the sake of forcing some two dozen women each year to stay pregnant and give birth to the children of people who sexually assaulted them or to babies that have genetic defects.

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