In Iowa, low-income rape victims who become pregnant and women carrying fetuses with severe abnormalities will be even more vulnerable to forced pregnancy and childbirth if the Senate has its way. An amendment to cut off Medicaid funding of abortion in cases of victims of sexual assault and fetal anomalies failed by just one vote.
According to Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa, the restriction was proposed by Senator Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton), who stated: “As a taxpayer in the state of Iowa, as a woman in the state of Iowa, as a mother—I don’t believe that I or anyone else feels that taxpayers ought to be funding abortion…What this does is removes the requirement for every taxpayer to support it.” Opponents of the bill noted that the new rule would require poor women to give birth to the children of their rapists simply by virtue of being poor.
The state funds approximately 20 Medicaid abortions per year.
Sinclair’s amendment, which was attached to the state budget bill, wouldn’t have simply cut off access to safe abortion care for the poorest of women in the most desperate of situations, but also greatly inhibit the ability of all women to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place. Along with the Medicaid ban was a restriction forbidding taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood to provide either contraception or prenatal care. “I do believe that women need access to family planning and prenatal care…through their primary health care providers,” Sinclair said during floor debate, reports Henderson.
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Sinclair ran for office on a platform of considering hormonal birth control “dangerous.” According to the Newton Daily News, during a 2012 debate, Sinclair responded to a question about accessible women’s health care “with a letter to the editor detailing the risks women take in utilizing hormonal birth control, and thus arguing that perhaps requiring access to such drugs is not safe. ‘I am not sure that requiring insurance companies to provide birth control is providing for safe and affordable health care for women. Women’s health care is much broader than abortion and contraception, it goes into a whole range of needs that are addressed by our current system.’”
Anti-choice lawmakers attempted to pull any Medicaid funding for abortions last session as well, first holding the state budget hostage and then even going as far as to petition the governor to get a rule change. Republican Governor Terry Branstad rejected their request.