GA: Court Denies Medicaid Coverage for Abortions

A Georgia court on Monday ruled that the state is not required to pay for medically necessary abortions for poor women through Medicaid. Seven Georgia clinics, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), had submitted an emergency request to cover abortions under Medicaid that are deemed necessary to protect a woman’s health, basing their claim on the Georgia State Constitution’s rights to privacy and equal protection. “We are not asking for special treatment for abortion, only that abortion be covered as all other medically necessary care,” said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, in a press statement.

The Hyde Amendment of 1976 excludes abortion from the health care services provided to low-income people by the federal government through Medicaid. Currently, the federal Medicaid coverage of abortions to cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the woman. Sixteen states cover medically necessary abortions under Medicaid, and 13 of these states were ordered to do so by the courts. “We are disappointed,” said Leola Reis, a vice president of Planned Parenthood of Georgia, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “However, this is just the first step in a lengthy legal process, and we remain optimistic that the court will ultimately protect poor women’s health,” she said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A recent Georgia Legislative Poll shows that almost 70 percent of registered voters in Georgia support coverage of medically necessary abortions under Medicaid, according to the ACLU.

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ACLU release 12/22/03; Atlanta Journal-Constitution 12/22/03, 12/23/03; Associated Press 12/23/03

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