Iowa Governor Will Personally Approve Every Medicaid-Funded Abortion


The 2013 Iowa legislative session has ended, and anti-choice lawmakers tried but once again failed to pass an amendment to the budget to eliminate Medicaid funding for abortion. Roughly two dozen abortions are funded by Medicaid in the state each year, in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape,  in which a fetus is found to have severe genetic anomalies, or in which the life of the woman is at stake. However, a new rule allows the governor to decide on a case by case basis which abortions will be reimbursed. His decision may leave poor women in exactly the same situation as if the amendment had gone through in the first place.

In past years, bills to cut off Medicaid funding of safe abortion care have failed, so anti-choice lawmakers instead inserted language into the state budget to bring the same results. The final passage of the 2013 budget does not directly prohibit all Medicaid funding of abortion in the case of rape or genetic anomalies but would allow the governor to approve or reject reimbursement to Medicaid in each particular application for reimbursement.

The difference was enough to allow both Republicans and Democrats to feel comfortable enough to approve the final budget. But with the issue of Medicaid reimbursement left unresolved, low-income women facing pregnancy resulting from rape, severe fetal anomalies, or life endangerment may find it difficult, if not impossible, to find a provider who will offer a termination.

Obtaining Medicaid reimbursement for those conditions allowed under current law is already a challenge in the state. If reimbursement by Medicaid relies on the governor in each circumstance, it is likely doctors will be far more reluctant to reimburse for procedures that may be expensive, especially in cases of fetal anomaly.

Republican Governor Terry Branstad already proved his anti-choice bona fides by appointing prominent anti-choice activists to the state medical board. On the other hand, he also blocked a 2012 attempt to cut off reimbursement for Medicaid abortions, making it slightly less clear which way he would fall when presented with a case to approve.

Still, uncertainty in the approval process may cause providers to shy away from ensuring that low-income victims of rape or those with fetal anomalies have access to safe abortion care. For Iowa anti-choice activists desperate to eliminate access to safe abortion care for the state’s poorest, that is as close to victory as they have been able to get.

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  • martinsnapp

    Love those small-government Republicans!

  • CT14

    HIPPA violation, anyone? The governor is not entitled to anyone’s medical information, even if they are poor. Your rights don’t cease because you are poor.

  • kc5vdj

    Does he do the same for Viagra?

  • radsenior

    The bottom line is TEA-types who have taken over the Republican party are deceptive, devious and divisive. TEA-types have committed egregious systematic lying to effect their causes and implement their issues. TEA-types are anti-empathetic towards people at the edge of society and work to take us back before the Civil War. TEA-types are anti-empathetic towards people at the edge of society and work to take us back to pre-historic times. TEA-Republicans will continue their reign of terror unless women get together and oust the entire lot locally, at the state level and nationally. Every woman with voting privileges in the state must get registered and get ready to vote every cycle from now on! There are too many men in Austin making rules for women, when it’s none of their business. Don’t just demonstrate, get registered, vote and get out the vote. The 2014 Mid-term is a-coming! As is 2016, and 2018! V.O.T.E.(Vote Out The Encumberance)

  • Leslie Parker

    There have been 624 bills regulating women’s bodies in 2013 alone,
    yet ZERO in regards to men since the dawn of time. TRUTH. It is appalling
    that our government thinks it has the right to determine what women’s reproductive
    rights are.