Governor Terry Branstad was asked at his weekly meeting with reporters if he will take any action to prevent the use of state money to finance abortions in the cases of rape and incest. “This is something the legislature needs to address. The present law is not clear and we cannot take action unless we have a law that gives us the authority to do so. I’ve always been one that believes we have to abide by the Constitution and the laws,” Branstad replied.
House Republicans had asked the Iowa Department of Human Services to eliminate Medicaid funding of abortions in cases of rape or incest, but D.H.S. director Charles Palmer responded last week in a letter and said such a move would “violate federal funding requirements” and would “jeopardize all” the money the State of Iowa gets from the federal government to cover Medicaid expenses.
Palmer said the state would lose over $2.1-billion in federal funding if he granted the request. House Republicans suggested the governor could take action, but Branstad says the legislature has to do something if this is what they want to do..
Branstad says, “We understand this is a controversial issue, there are strong feelings on both sides. And there was not a consensus, I understand, between the House and Senate on this issue, so it was not addressed in the legislative session, and we don’t have the authority to do it by rule.”
Some House Republicans believe the budget bill passed by the legislature provides the legislative intent for the governor to take action. But Branstad says the bill has been thoroughly reviewed and the language is “very vague and there are many different interpretations of that.”