Iowa Lawmakers Seek To End Medicaid Abortion Coverage for Rape, Incest, Fetal Anomalies

June 20, 2012 — Forty-one Iowa House Republicans have filed a petition requesting emergency rulemaking to prohibit the state's Medicaid program from covering abortion care in cases of rape, incest or fetal anamolies, the Des Moines Register's "Iowa Politics Insider" reports.

The petition to the Iowa Department of Human Services argues that allowing Medicaid to pay for abortion care in those cases conflicts with state law. State Rep. Dawn Pettengill (R) initiated the petition.

Critics of the petition said the restrictions would put Iowa at odds with federal law and jeopardize the state's federal Medicaid funding, which totals $1.8 billion annually. South Dakota is the only state that does not provide Medicaid abortion coverage in cases of rape and incest, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Although the South Dakota law has not been challenged in court, 13 other states are providing the coverage under court order.

According to "Iowa Politics Insider," the state has until Aug. 10 to respond to the petition. DHS could dismiss it or move forward with the rulemaking process, which would require the petition to go through the state's Administrative Rules Review Committee.

State Sen. Jack Hatch (D), chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, said the changes are unlikely to pass the review committee (Clayworth, "Iowa Politics Insider," Des Moines Register, 6/18).