Medicaid Abortion Funding Holds Up Iowa State Budget Deal

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 29, 2011   |   12:46PM   |   Des Moines, IA

A battle over whether taxpayers should be forced to pay, via Medicaid, for abortions done at University of Iowa Hospitals is threatening to hold up a deal between state House Republicans and state Senate Democrats on the state budget.

Senate Democrats want to keep current language allowing abortion funding in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, or to save a mother’s life to stay in place while Republicans want to tighten the current funding limits to include only saving the life of the mother and cases when the unborn child will not survive. Republicans also want informed consent provisions in place that inform women of abortion risks and alternatives and allow an ultrasound to be shown to women before having an abortion.

Sen. Jack Hatch, a Democrat, told the Des Moines register that the impasse is holding up the $1.5 billion health and human services spending bill and that he hopes to have a negotiated agreement this evening.

Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat, opposes the informed consent proposal, according to the newspaper, while Rep. Matt Windschitl, a Republican, supports it.

“I do believe a child is a sacred gift from God,” he said, adding that Republicans are not likely to agree to water down their demands. “I do not believe that if we maneuver any more that the bill has enough support to pass.”

“In these traumatic situations it has to be a horrible decision to make, but in the interest of health — not only mentally but physically of a woman in one of these situations — we want to make sure a decision is not made in haste, that the mother understands all options available to her,” he added, according to Radio Iowa.

“I respect that the mother may not have wanted this to happen,” he said. “But at the same time, the child didn’t ask to be conceived and we have to respect that. We have to put both lives on the same level because I do believe life is a sacred gift from God.”

The Register shows figures from the state health department found five abortions done in 2010 save the life of the mother, no abortions from incest since 2005 and just three resulting from rape. They also show 22 abortions done in cases where the unborn child would be born with supposedly severe physical disabilities.

Meanwhile, Bob Vander Plaats, head of the pro-family group Family Leader, upped the ante in the debate by saying he would ensure any Republicans who fold on the abortion funding debate would face primary election challenges.

“I think you will definitely see some primaries come out of this,” Vander Plaats told host Jan Mickelsen on Des Moines WHO radio Wednesday morning.