A committee in the Iowa House has approved legislation that would forbid Iowans who take advantage of federally-subsidized health insurance to get a policy that covers abortions.

Representative Dawn Pettengill, a Republican from Mount Auburn, is one of the bill’s backers. “The average cost of an abortion is $300 to $1,200 and the taxpayers have said they don’t want to cover that,” Pettengill says. Under the Federal Healthcare Reform Act, states are required to establish health insurance exchanges. 

The exchanges are intended to help the people who earn less than $90,000 a year buy private policies that are subsidized by the federal government. Representative Jo Oldson, a Democrat from Des Moines, opposes the proposed ban on policies that provide coverage for abortions. “Probably my main concern on this bill, quite frankly, is there is no provision in here for the health and safety of the mother,” Oldson says. “So I guess we don’t care about the mother’s health.”

The bill now goes to the full House for debate and likely passage.  Its fate is far less certain in the Iowa Senate, where key Democrats object to the restriction.