The Iowa Senate has narrowly rejected a bid to forbid taxpayer-funded abortions for low-income Iowa women who are the victims of rape or incest.
“As a taxpayer in the state of Iowa, as a woman in the state of Iowa, as a mother — I don’t believe that I or anyone else feels that taxpayers ought to be funding abortion,” said Senator Amy Sinclair, a Republican from Allerton.
Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, said it’s a “tough issue.”
“If a woman is raped, she has to have the baby…That’s unfair to women just because they’re poor,” Hatch said.
AUDIO of Senate debate of SF446 ; 44:00 (debate of abortion issue begins just before 9:00-mark.)
Seven taxpayer-funded abortions were performed at the University of Iowa Hospitals in the last half of 2012 for low-income women on Medicaid who were carrying a fetus with a fetal abnormality. Under Sinclair’s proposal, that would change.
“What this does is removes the requirement for every taxpayer to support it,” Sinclair said.
Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, said low income women who have pregnancies that go “tragically wrong” should get taxpayer support for an abortion.
“We’re talking about fetal deformity,” Bolkcom said. “We’re talking about…that newborn baby’s inability to be viable and live outside of the womb.”
The proposal also would have banned taxpayer funding for birth control or prenatal care offered by Planned Parenthood, a move Senator Sinclair supports.
“I do believe that women need access to family planning and prenatal care…through their primary health care providers,” Sinclair said.
Twenty-three senators voted for the new abortion restrictions, but 24 voted against it. Senator Kent Sorenson, a Republican from Milo, said the tide is turning on abortion.
“This is a dead issue for you guys,” Sorenson said to Democrats. “This is something that we’re seeing society move in our direction. We have a country that is becoming more pro-life. We have a state that is becoming more pro-life.”
In other statehouse news, there is a development in the ethics complaint filed earlier this year against Sorenson. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Michele Bachmann’s former chief of staff plans to tell the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee that Bachmann staff funneled money from her campaign to a consulting firm that paid Sorenson $7500 a month in 2011.
Sorenson was Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman until just before the Caucuses, when he quit and endorsed Ron Paul. Senate rules forbid senators from being paid to work on presidential campaigns. Sorenson has said the allegations are “totally baseless.”