Abortion payments under Medicaid would need Iowa governor's signature
DES MOINES — Catholic, anti-abortion Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad could soon find himself in an uncomfortable position: He may have to sign off on payments for every Medicaid-funded abortion in his state.
A bill requiring that authorization is sitting on the Republican's desk after moving through the statehouse. If Branstad signs it, Iowa is likely to be the only state that would have the unique requirement.
Iowa's Medicaid program covers a small number of abortions each year due to rape, incest, fetal deformity or to protect a mother's life. Currently handled by the state Department of Human Services, the Medicaid reimbursements cost the state less than $20,000 last fiscal year.
The change in who approves the payment is a result of Iowa's unusual political landscape. It is one of only three states with a divided legislature, with Republicans controlling the state House and Democrats the Senate. Blocking funds for Medicaid abortions has been a priority for some conservative Iowa Republicans in recent years, but past efforts to change the rules — as well as make some of the more sweeping abortion restrictions seen in other GOP-majority states — have failed to advance in the Senate.
But a split legislature can lead to unusual deal-making. In this case, the abortion plan was negotiated as part of a complex health care bill that included accepting additional federal dollars to expand low-income health care in the state — a key priority for Democrats. Republicans hope by putting the decision into the hands of an anti-abortion governor, fewer public dollars will be spent on abortions. Democrats say they expect no changes, but abortion rights advocates fear it could restrict access to abortions for poor women.
Branstad said he is likely to approve the legislation, which affects reimbursements after the abortions, not authorizing the procedures ahead of time.
“The number of abortions that have been funded in Iowa has been very small. I'm hopeful that can continue and even be reduced, but I take the responsibility that I've been given very seriously,” Branstad said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Defense chief says U.S. can fly over South China Sea
- Worries mount of unleashed ‘Taliban 5’
- Nebraska lawmakers ban death penalty
- Morgan settles lawsuit with Wal-Mart over crash
- Fossils point to relative of ‘Lucy’ species
- IRS believes identity thieves are from Russia
- Lawyer argues in New York court that chimpanzees have same rights as humans
- Growth potential remains for online gambling
- Charged Baltimore officers seek change of venue
- Early U.S. coins sell for $25M
- Suspect in killings of wealthy D.C. family arrested