Poor Iowa women carrying a deformed fetus would not be able to get an abortion at taxpayers’ expense under legislation pending at the statehouse. Under current law, a poor woman can get a taxpayer-financed abortion at the University Hospitals in Iowa City if the fetus is deformed or has a congenital illness. But a proposal included in the republican-crafted budget plan would end that practice. Republican Representative Cecil Dolecheck of Mount Ayr says an abortion shouldn’t be deemed “medically necessary” if the unborn child has some sort of defect. Dolecheck says he “has a lot of constituency out there that does not feel we should be using public dollars for that purpose,” in other words, to abort a deformed fetus. Dolecheck says the proposal does not prevent a woman from aborting a deformed fetus, it just means taxpayer dollars can’t be used. He says a “medically necessary” abortion is a “choice in every sense of the word.” Judith Rutledge, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, says since 1973 Iowa law has allowed poor women to get a taxpayer-funded abortion if the baby they’re carrying is deformed. Rutledge says it’s worked for over 30 years and “there is absolutely no reason to change the language now.” Rutledge says if a poor woman’s told she’s carrying a baby that has no brain, she’ll have to deliver that baby. Rutledge says that’s “discriminatory” and “punitive.” Rutledge says very few “medical necessary” abortions are paid for with tax dollars, and they’re not being done for “insignificant defects” like a cleft palate. Rutledge says “these are decisions that should be left up to physicians and families and not politicians.” Anti-abortion groups have been pushing lawmakers to outlaw all taxpayer-funded abortions. Under the proposal, poor women could still get public-financed abortion in cases of rape, incest, a spontaneous abortion or if the poor woman’s life is endangered by her pregnancy.
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