Iowa Lawmakers Petition To Cut Medicare Funding For All Abortions, Including Incest And Rape

By @TrishaMarczakMP |
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    Rep. Dawn Pettengill, R-Mount Auburn, hugs Rep. Lance Horbach, R-Tama, after the House adjourned the 2012 legislative session, Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

    Rep. Dawn Pettengill, R-Mount Auburn, hugs Rep. Lance Horbach, R-Tama, after the House adjourned the 2012 legislative session, Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)


    (MintPress) – More than 40 Iowa Republican lawmakers have added their name to a petition demanding the state strip provisions that allow Medicare funds for abortions in the case of incest, rape or the fetal anomalies, claiming doing so violates the state’s abortions’ laws.

    Implementation of such a law could potentially strip the state from $1.8 billion in federal Medicare funds, leaving thousands of low-income residents without medical assistance. However, those in favor of the move claim it would only cost the state $4 million, according to the Des Moines Register.

    Currently, Medicaid in Iowa — and every state — requires reimbursements in cases of incest, although such abortions must be carried out within a 150 day period, cases of rape, which abortions conducted within 45 days of the act, are also reimbursed, along with instances in which a doctor verifies that a woman’s life would be in danger if she carried the child to term.

    Under the Hyde Act, which as approved by Congress in 1976, federal healthcare programs can only provide funding for abortion in the case of rape, incest or in situations when a woman’s life is at risk. That’s a policy that’s implemented into the federal Medicare program, which mandates that abortions be funded in such cases.

    A copy of the petition, presented by the Des Moines Register, indicates that it was filed by Rep. Dawn Pettengill, a Republican. Addressed to the Department of Human Services (DHS), it seeks to also change the definition of “medical emergency” to be altered to eliminate cases of rape and incest, along with cases in which the “fetus is physically deformed, mentally deficient or afflicted with a congenital illness.”

    The petition also states that, in cases of abortions, doctors must certify that women are given the opportunity to see an ultrasound image before all abortions are performed, and that women seeking abortions are also given information related to fetal development and adoption options.

    Those opposing the petition claim it’s a waste of time, considering the DHS is likely to reject it, on the grounds that it would strip the state of Medicare funds. Others claim that it’s a move targeted at low-income women, who would not otherwise be able to afford the abortion.

    “You are re-victimizing the woman who is a victim of a serious crime and cannot afford that health care because she is poor,” Rep. Lisa Heddens, a Democrat, told the Huffington Post.

    South Dakota is the only other state in the nation to implement a similar policy. The state continues to receive Medicaid funding, but has also not run up against a case in which a woman challenged the lack of funding for a procedure.

    According to the Register, Medicaid has paid for 22 abortions within the fiscal year, 15 of which were related to fetal anomalies and which were due endangerment of the mother’s life. Two cases qualified due to rape. Such procedures are estimated to cost $1,400 each time, which means Medicaid paid out roughly $30,000 for such cases.

    In order for the petition to many any change, it would have to be reviewed and approved by the DHS board, which isn’t likely, considering it is made up of an equal disbursement of Republicans and Democrats.

    In the beginning of the petition, however, Pettengill clearly states that the DHS “has the clear and express statutory authority to consider this petition for rulemaking and the authority to take the action requested herein.”

    Iowa’s current law outlaws abortion after 24 weeks and has a ban on partial-birth abortions, with a felony charge for those found guilty of violating that law. Women under 18 are not permitted to undergo an abortion unless written approval has been granted by a parent or guardian.


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