Indiana Supreme Court Expands Medicaid Coverage for Abortions

Last week, Indiana’s Supreme Court expanded Medicaid coverage to include abortions for low-income women when the pregnancy poses a serious risk to the woman’s health. The 3-2 decision extends previous coverage of abortions, which were formerly only paid for under Medicaid when a woman’s life was at risk or when the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, according to the Indianapolis Star.

The decision settles a lawsuit filed in 1999 by the Clinic for Women in Indianapolis, the Women’s Pavilion in South Bend, and two Indiana doctors. The lawsuit contended that the state violated the rights of low-income women, according to Indiana’s constitution, Kaisernetwork.org reports. The decision of whether a pregnancy constitutes a “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment” to a woman’s health such that an abortion would be covered under Medicaid will be made by doctors, according to the Associated Press.

“While we are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not hold that all medically necessary abortions must be funded, we are gratified that the state of Indiana can no longer deny Medicaid coverage for abortions to low-income women whose health is seriously imperiled by a pregnancy,” said Bebe J. Anderson of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), who served as lead counsel in the case, according to a press statement. According to CRR, 13 states have been ordered by state courts to cover all medically necessary abortions under the state’s Medicaid program.

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Indianapolis Star 9/25/03; Associated Press 9/25/03; Kaisernetwork.org 9/26/03; CRR 9/24/03

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