Sixteen states and the District of Columbia are continuing to finance all or almost all abortions for low-income women, despite the loss of federal matching funds for this purpose, according to a survey by the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
The survey, published in the Institute's magazine, Family Population Reporter, said the other states have imposed severe restrictions on free welfare abortions since the federal government cut off matching funds for most abortions.
For several years, low-income women eligible for federal-state Medicaid benefits were able to obtain abortions for therapeutic and birth-control purposes in all but and handful of states under Medicaid, the magazine said.
However, Congress in 1976 and 1977 voted restrictions on the use of federal funds to finance such abortions, which the Supreme Court ruled last year was within Congress' right to do. Since then, the magazine said, many states have changed their policies and cut back on funding for abortions that do not equally for federal aid.
It gave this rundown:
16 states and the District of Columbia as of March 31 "were paying for all or most abortions," even those that had to be financed entirely by their own welfare medical funds and for which there was no federal reimbursement. The states are Maryland, West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii.
Nine states provided free abortions only of the types eligible for federal aid. This means abortions to save the life of the woman, to avert severe and long-lasting physical health damage that would occur if the pregnancy continued, or to terminate pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. The nine: Montana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina.
Three provided medicaid abortions to welfare clients only to save the life of the woman or to terminate pregnancies resulting from rape or incest: New Mexico, Kansas and Minnesota.
Twenty-one states paid only if the woman's life was threatened: Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhose Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
(Although Virginia at the time of the institute survey financed abortions only to save a woman's life, a temporary court order subsequently directed the state to provide all "necessary medical therapeutic abortions," thereby enlarge the scope.)
The remaining state, Arizona, lacks a statewide Medicaid program, the institute said, but county welfare departments may provide abortion benefits if they choose.