News Abortion

Iowa Republicans Again Force Showdown Over Medicaid Coverage of Abortions for Rape, Anomalies

Robin Marty

Forcing poor women to pay out-of-pocket or give birth to their rapists' baby has now become an outright vendetta in Iowa.

Iowa Republicans are taking yet another stab at removing all Medicaid funding for abortion in the state, this time writing an amendment into the state budget requesting that the funding be eliminated. Although the roughly 20 abortions per year that get paid that way are a result of either rape or fetal anomalies, strident anti-choice politicians have made removing that last vestige of assistance for poor women a vendetta since 2011.

Abortion opponents tried and failed to strip Medicaid coverage via a budget amendment in both 2011 and 2012, and sought out an “emergency rule” maneuver to strip it after the 2012 budget amendment failed. Iowa Right to Life condemned the governor’s office for blocking the emergency rule, declaring that it would seek other ways to “fix” the allowance of fetal anomaly abortions being funded by the state.

The “fix,” if this year’s legislative session and outside rallying is any indication, is to once more lump rape victims in with individuals whose pregnancies are compromised, and refuse to fund any abortions whatsoever. A new “no funding ever, even in cases of rape and anomaly” amendment was proposed by state Sen. Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton); it failed to pass the Senate.

Now, the state house has passed its own amendment, after GOP house leaders threatened to refuse to pass the budget without it. The added language will force the two bodies to once more fight it out in order to get a completed budget to the governor for approval.

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This continued effort comes just days after anti-choice political groups in Iowa rallied at the state house, demanding support for bills that would end Medicaid funding of every abortion for every reason, even if that means a complete logjam in governing. The Des Moines Register reported that “Greg Baker, the Family Leader’s political director, said lawmakers who oppose abortion need to take a ‘hard stand’ and to remain firm as long as necessary, even though it will be difficult when June arrives and there is increased pressure to pass a state budget.”

So once again, the state is likely to end its legislative session in another acrimonious, last-minute budget fight. For the third year in a row, a handful of lawmakers may hold the entire state budget hostage at the urging of anti-choice lobbyists, all for the sake of forcing some two dozen women each year to stay pregnant and give birth to the children of people who sexually assaulted them or to babies that have genetic defects.

News Politics

Tim Kaine Changes Position on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back the Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate, has promised to stand with nominee Hillary Clinton in opposing the Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that Kaine “has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde amendment,” according to the network’s transcript.

“Voters can be 100 percent confident that Tim Kaine is going to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Mook said.

The commitment to opposing Hyde was “made privately,” Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson later clarified to CNN’s Edward Mejia Davis.

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Kaine’s stated support for ending the federal ban on abortion funding is a reversal on the issue for the Virginia senator. Kaine this month told the Weekly Standard  that he had not “been informed” that this year’s Democratic Party platform included a call for repealing the Hyde Amendment. He said he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

Repealing the Hyde Amendment has been an issue for Democrats on the campaign trail this election cycle. Speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in January, Clinton denounced Hyde, noting that it made it “harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.”

Clinton called the federal ban on abortion funding “hard to justify” when asked about it later that month at the Brown and Black Presidential Forum, adding that “the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.”

Clinton’s campaign told Rewire during her 2008 run for president that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

The Democratic Party on Monday codified its commitment to opposing Hyde, as well as the Helms Amendment’s ban on foreign assistance funds being used for abortion care. 

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back Hyde’s ban on federal funding for abortion care.

When asked about whether the president supported the repeal of Hyde during the White House press briefing Tuesday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said he did not “believe we have changed our position on the Hyde Amendment.”

When pushed by a reporter to address if the administration is “not necessarily on board” with the Democratic platform’s call to repeal Hyde, Schultz said that the administration has “a longstanding view on this and I don’t have any changes in our position to announce today.”

News Politics

Democratic Party Platform: Repeal Bans on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

When asked this month about the platform’s opposition to Hyde, Hillary Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said that he had not “been informed of that” change to the platform though he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde Amendment.”

Democrats voted on their party platform Monday, codifying for the first time the party’s stated commitment to repealing restrictions on federal funding for abortion care.

The platform includes a call to repeal the Hyde Amendment, an appropriations ban on federal funding for abortion reimplemented on a yearly basis. The amendment disproportionately affects people of color and those with low incomes.

“We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured,” states the Democratic Party platform. “We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.”

The platform also calls for an end to the Helms Amendment, which ensures that “no foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.”

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Though Helms allows funding for abortion care in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment, the Obama administration has failed to enforce those guarantees.

Despite the platform’s opposition to the restrictions on abortion care funding, it makes no mention of how the anti-choice measures would be rolled back.

Both presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have promised to address Hyde and Helms if elected. Clinton has said she would “fix the Helms Amendment.”

Speaking at the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum in January, Clinton said that the Hyde Amendment “is just hard to justify because … certainly the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.” In 2008, Clinton’s campaign told Rewire that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

When asked this month about the platform’s opposition to Hyde, Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said in an interview with the Weekly Standard that he had not “been informed of that” change to the platform though he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

“The Hyde amendment and Helms amendment have prevented countless low-income women from being able to make their own decisions about health, family, and future,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement, addressing an early draft of the platform. “These amendments have ensured that a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion is a right that’s easier to access if you have the resources to afford it. That’s wrong and stands directly in contrast with the Democratic Party’s principles, and we applaud the Party for reaffirming this in the platform.”