Despite a budget passed by the 2011 Iowa Legislature that removed taxpayer funding for abortions in the case of fetal anomalies, Iowans were charged for 15 of them during the past 11½ months, at a total cost of $9,572.64. Five more abortions were charged to Iowa taxpayers in the case of life of the mother and two were performed as the result of rape. The total cost to Iowa taxpayers was $13,434.65.
Republican House members have been fighting to stop the practice of taxpayer-funded abortions. The battle intensified when they learned that abortions in the case of fetal anomalies were still being covered with Medicaid dollars, despite a legislative agreement to end the practice. Now, Republicans are taking their fight a step further. 41 legislators signed a petition sent to the Department of Human Services asking them to put an end to all taxpayer-funded abortions, except in the case of life of the mother.
“The law says only for medical necessity or emergencies,” said Rep. Dawn Pettengill (R-Mt. Auburn), who filed the petition. “The function of the Administrative Rules Committee is to make sure the rules match the law. On June 30, 2011, 27 Senators and 61 Representatives voted yes to restricting taxpayer-funded abortions. The abortion language became law on 7/1/2011, but the department ignored it. After utilizing all other avenues, this petition tells DHS we insist on them creating the rules and operating in that manner.”
The petition gives DHS an August 10 deadline to make a ruling. “That’s the only thing that we can do right now,” said Rep. Tom Shaw (R-Laurens), one of the petition signers. “I just think that it reflects what the legislative intent was when it passed the HHS budget a year ago.”
The frustration of Pettengill, Shaw and other pro-life members of the legislature has grown exponentially over the past few months. So far, no one has been able to explain why the budget passed in 2011 was not adopted into Iowa Code.
“Unfortunately, for a state agency to refuse to implement the law would not be record breaking news,” Pettengill said. “In the June 2012 meeting, the Attorney General’s office noticed rules for the first time from 2008 law! Sorry people, no matter who you are, you don’t get to pick and choose which laws to implement. The days of the tail wagging the dog are over. We make the law and the bureaucrats are there to implement it.”
Pro-abortion advocates argue that Iowa will lose Medicaid funding is they ban taxpayer-funded abortions. However, South Dakota has not funded abortions for 10 years and has not lost any federal Medicaid dollars.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Shaw said. “I believe in the equal protection of all innocent life, so it just makes it doubly bad when we’re using taxpayer funding to do it.”
Governor Branstad’s spokesman Tim Albrecht did not return TheIowaRepublican.com’s phone call seeking comment on this issue. They did comment on our original story regarding fetal anomaly abortions, written on April 18. Here is a portion of that comment, in which Branstad accepted responsibility for those abortions being paid for with taxpayer money:
“Iowa Medicaid Enterprises utilizes a contractor for medical services. The medical director and the review team are medical professionals working as contractors for an outside vendor scrutinizing reimbursement. The responsibility of all Medicaid contractors and the Iowa Medicaid Enterprises rests with the Department of Human Services, and ultimately, the Office of the Governor.”
Representative Dawn Pettengill believes it would set a dangerous precedent for DHS to deny the petition of 41 lawmakers to implement law. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” she said. “If it does, why have representative government at all?”
Below is the breakdown of taxpayer-funded abortions in Iowa this year, as provided by DHS:
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