Dave Heaton

Dave Heaton

Republicans in the Iowa House are proposing a ban on all taxpayer-funded abortions as well as new rules to forbid pregnant women on Medicaid from choosing to have a cesarean. 

Republicans estimate the state could save $1.2 million by forbidding Medicaid coverage for elective cesareans.

“We’re not trying to get in between an emergency procedure or a medically necessary c-section,” says Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, “but we are saying that perhaps one should really examine whether or not the c-section is necessary before its performed.”

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control, 29.4 percent of the babies born in Iowa in 2007 were delivered via c-section. That’s 11 percent more Iowa c-sections than were performed a decade earlier. Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, is skeptical.

“I have not seen evidence of elective c-sections in Iowa being something that is an epidemic problem,” she says.

Kristen Running-Marquardt

Kristen Running-Marquardt

A recent University of Minnesota study found c-section rates vary widely by state and even by hospital. Heaton says natural child-birth is preferable when there’s choice involved. 

“To have a c-section just for convenience purposes maybe should be thought about a little more,” Heaton says.

Running-Marquardt says it’s “crazy” to think women are choosing to have a c-section — which is major abdominal surgery — just for the convenience.

“I just feel like we’re speaking two different languages here today,” she says. “It just shows me that we need more women legislators here.”

The debate on this subject happened as members of the House Appropriations Committee considered a bill that outlines next year’s budget for the Iowa Departments of Human Services and Public Health.

Republicans on the panel approved the new ban on elective cesareans that are not medically necessary. The Republicans also approved a ban on taxpayer funded abortions for women on Medicaid who’ve been the victim of rape or incest, or whose life is threatened by their pregnancy.

Representative Tyler Olson of Cedar Rapids — the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party — spoke against the proposal.

“This room is not the place for us to be making medical decisions about what care is appropriate for Iowans,” Olson said. “Those decisions are made in doctor’s offices and hospitals.”

The bill Republicans voted out of the House Appropriations Committee today also bans taxpayer-funding for birth control, cancer screenings or other services provided by Planned Parenthood. Heaton, however, was the only Republican to speak about those anti-abortion proposals.

“We are taking this position and standing firm,” Heaton said.

The next stop for the entire bill and this debate over abortions and cesareans is in the full, 100-member Iowa House.

AUDIO of committee debate of House GOP amendment 39:00

AUDIO of committee debate of bill as amended 5:00