Iowa Governor Will Continue to Decide Who Gets Medicaid Funds for Abortion Care

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Iowa Governor Will Continue to Decide Who Gets Medicaid Funds for Abortion Care

Teddy Wilson

An Iowa appropriations bill would require people seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound and continue to require Gov. Terry Branstad (R) to personally decide which abortions are covered by Medicaid.

An Iowa appropriations bill would require people seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound and continue to require Gov. Terry Branstad (R) to personally decide which abortions are covered by Medicaid.

Lawmakers in the Iowa legislature passed SF 505 this month. The legislation funds the Department of Health and Human Services.

An SF 505 provision states that people seeking abortion care will “be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound image of the fetus as part of the standard care.” Pregnant people must also be provided with information regarding the pregnancy, including how many weeks of gestation, parental rights after birth, and availability of adoption.

Penny Dickey of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland told KCCI that it is already standard for Planned Parenthood to provide every woman with the opportunity to see her ultrasound. “The lawmakers should really stay out of their private medical decisions,” Dickey said.

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Republican lawmakers defended the requirement, claiming it wasn’t about interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.

“This is not about whether or not we trust women,” said Rep. Joel Fry (R-Osceola), reported the Des Moines Register. “This is about letting the woman have informed choices and to be sure that they have all of the information they need in order to make that choice.”

Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, said that it was “a huge, life-saving victory” for lawmakers to include the sonogram language, reported the Des Moines Register.

The legislation also includes a provision continuing the practice of requiring Branstad to decide on a case-by-case basis whether Medicaid funds are used to reimburse people for abortion services when their pregnancies are the result of rape or incest, when there are fetal abnormalities, or to protect the life of the woman.

No other state in the nation has such a law.

Branstad has signaled that he has no desire to continue this policy. He didn’t include a renewal of the rule in his Medicaid budget proposal, in part because the rule has never been invoked. He has not yet signed SF 505 into law.

Iowa Republicans during the 2013 legislative session had sought to prevent Medicaid funding for any abortion care, but Democrats, who controlled the senate, blocked the proposal. Branstad did not support fully eliminating the funding.