Editor's Note: With 26 days left until the presidential election, PolicyMic's Audrey Farber will be posting a daily update on the state of abortion rights in the U.S., covering legislative challenges to Roe v. Wade in all 50 states.
So far, we've gotten updates on Wisconsin, Mississippi, Michigan, Indiana, Alabama, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, D.C., South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire. Check back in every day to keep track!
I didn’t think I was going to get to talk about Todd Akin because I’m not in Missouri yet, but — lo and behold — Iowa Republican Representative Steve King (not that one) defended Akin’s infamous comments and even added some of his own, saying he’d never heard of an instance in which “young victims of statutory rape or incest become pregnant.” He took it back, but has also been known to say some other ridiculous things. King has bragged in the past that Paul Ryan "listens to him"— we'll see if he merits a shout-out in the debate tonight.
In King's home state, the Iowa GOP is hot on the trail of restricting access to abortions, even though currently the only restrictions in place are limited public funding, parental notification, and state-directed counseling.
In June, lawmakers petitioned the state’s Department of Health Services to cut off all Medicaid reimbursements for abortions, including those as a result of rape or incest. Part of the rule-change petitioned for would also require a woman seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound. According to the NBC news affiliate in Des Moines, “all of these measures failed to pass during the 2012 legislative session.”
The problem with this idea, of course, is that such a ruling would conflict with the federal Hyde Amendment and jeopardize the entire $2 billion the state receives in federal funds. DHS Director Charles Palmer refused the request in early August. DHS’s rejection of the petition will hold, at least until readdressed by the legislature. Republican Governor Terry Branstad, for one, does not believe his administration has the authority to make such unilateral decisions.
Even in a non-Republican-dominated legislature, Iowa debated issues such as the feticide bill introduced by Tea Party Republican Kim Pearson. The bill would have made the performance of an abortion a Class A felony (life without parole), an attempted abortion (what?) a Class B felony, as well as would mandate punishments for aiding and abetting abortion-seekers. This outright ban would have, undoubtedly, violated Roe v. Wade. Pearson alienated fellow Republicans with her zeal, and will not be seeking re-election.
Though Pearson will be out of the picture, Iowans, you’ve been forewarned about Branstad and the GOP’s intentions for the coming legislative session.
Thirteen weeks ago, a 32-year-old mentally-disabled Nevada woman wandered away from her group home and became pregnant. She has epilepsy and is on medication, which carries risks for both the pregnancy and the birth. Her parents are her guardians, which under Nevada law entitles them to make her healthcare decisions for her; although they “failed to file an annual report regarding their daughter’s condition and their performance of duties as required by state law.”