Republicans in the Iowa House have voted to prohibit state tax money from being used to provide abortions to Medicaid patients in cases of rape or incest.
The proposal, attached to large bill which outlines state spending for the Iowa Departments of Human Services and Public Health, also would prohibit Medicaid patients from going to Planned Parenthood to get reproductive health exams, cancer screenings or sexually-transmitted disease tests. Representative Annette Sweeney, a Republican from Alden, urged the House to adopt the policy.
“Your vote…will prioritize health care funding in this state,” Sweeney said.
Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, voted against the proposals.
“Every family circumstance is different,” Wessel-Kroeschell said. “Even if we have difficulty understanding why, that’s not a reason to impose our own beliefs on someone else.”
Wessel-Kroeschell was the only opponent to speak and Sweeney was the only advocate to make remarks during what turned out to be a 12-minute debate in the House.
AUDIO of debate.
Wessel-Kroeschel suggested federal policy requires the Medicaid program to cover abortions in cases of rape or incest and the State of Iowa risks losing federal money with the GOP proposal.
“I assume that you have done the research to find out what will happen,” Wessel-Kroeschell said.
Sweeney suggested up to $6 million in federal funds would be “at risk” if Iowa takes this policy step — to which Wessel-Kroeschell countered that the state stands to lose “many, many” millions in federal funds.
Democrats in the Iowa Senate last week rejected a similar proposal from Senate Republicans, so this abortion-related debate is likely to linger as a major stumbling block to completing the work of the 2012 legislative session.
The proposal from House Republicans would still allow state-funded abortions in cases when a Medicaid patient’s life is endangered by her pregnancy.