A group of 41 Republican lawmakers in Iowa filed a petition with the state’s Department of Human Services this week, seeking to end government funded abortions in the state. The petition argues that funding abortions through Medicaid in cases of rape or incest violates state laws and the funding should be declared illegal. Under the Hyde Amendment of 1976, federal funds cannot be used for abortions, unless it is to save the life of the woman or in cases of rape or incest. According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa receives $1.8 billion annually from Medicaid and the petition could jeopardize this funding.
State Senator Jack Hatch (D), chair of the joint Health and Human Services Appropriations Sub-Committee, said, “This is a pure political strategy by them to keep their social agenda alive during the election. I can’t remember when this has happened in the past.” Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at the Guttmacher institute, said that a woman who requires an abortion to save her life often cannot afford the procedure, saying, “Scraping together that funding can be incredibly difficult when you’re talking hundreds and hundreds of dollars. On top of that, it’s just absolutely the right thing to for public health purposes.
Currently, South Dakota is the only state that does not allow Medicaid funding of abortions and has not allowed this funding for the past 36 years. The law persists in South Dakota because no one with standing, the legal term for a person who has been harmed by the law, has brought a legal challenge. The Iowa Department of Human Services must respond to the petition by August 10, and can either dismiss it or advance it to the Administrative Rules Review Committee.
Des Moines Register 6/19/12; ThinkProgress 6/19/12; Care2 6/19/12