Iowa Right To Life Seeks to Deny Medicaid Coverage for Pregancies with Fetal Anomalies

Anti-choicers in Iowa are determined to force someone out of Medicaid-funded abortions.

Marlys Popma, president of Iowa Right to Life.

Last year, 22 women in Iowa had abortions paid for by Medicaid. Of them, 7 were pregnancies as a result of rape, and 15 were due to fetal anomalies.

Iowa Right to Life, having been thwarted in their attempt to force rape victims to give birth if they can’t afford an abortion, has now chosen to come after the fetal anomaly exception instead.

Via the Sioux City Journal:

Marlys Popma of rural Kellogg, president of Iowa Right to Life, said her group “takes severe issue” with a recent decision by Charles Palmer, director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, to deny a request by 41 GOP House members seeking to rescind state rules governing pregnancies terminated in cases of rape, incest and fetal deformation.

“Iowa is currently one of only three states that fund abortions with taxpayer dollars for fetal abnormality,” Popma said in a statement. “In no way is this consistent with the federal Hyde Amendment and funding for such abortions should be ceased immediately. We call on the administration to act accordingly.”

In an interview, Popma said “without doubt” the federal Hyde amendment “does not require the state to fund abortion for fetal abnormality,” and she planned to seek a meeting with Branstad and his staff “about what his next steps may be.” She also said she hoped to talk with Palmer about the issue as well and felt it was too early in the process to determine whether the situation might trigger any kind of legal challenge.

“We’re kind of in a holding pattern to determine what our next steps will be,” she said. “We would like to see an immediate change in the funding of abortions for fetal abnormalities.”

According to the state, abortions in the case of fetal anomaly are rare and usually due to a severe issue that makes the fetus nonviable.

The state paid for 15 of those last fiscal year, at an average cost of $638, [Roger Munns, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services] said. He said Medicaid pays for such abortions “for only the most severely deformed fetuses. In many cases, the child would not live if delivered.” Examples include fetuses that are missing large parts of their brains, he said.

The federal government does not cover abortions in these cases, so the full amount is paid by the state. And because a small fringe of Iowans think it’s compassionate to force poor women to carry a child that will not survive either pregnancy or birth, and to pay the much higher medical costs associated with labor and delivery in a complicated pregnancy, Iowa anti-choicers want to stop the state from helping women pay for these abortions.