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Iowa abortion law produces surprising result

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An anti-abortion protest outside the Supreme Court last month. In Iowa,  Gov. Terry Branstad hasn’t approved any abortions under a new law giving him control of funding, but 15 abortions have still taken place.                                  (Getty Images)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — While many states passed sweeping abortion laws last year, the Iowa General Assembly endorsed just one — a perplexing measure befitting its status as one of the few legislatures under divided control.

The GOP-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate put Gov. Terry Branstad personally in charge of signing off on any payments for publicly funded abortions. About seven months later, the consequences have surprised everyone.

Branstad, a Republican and abortion opponent, hasn’t approved any payments. But the patients who were eligible for Medicaid-funded abortions have received them anyway.

That’s because the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics simply decided not to bill the state for the procedures.

Abortion rights supporters and opponents are debating whether the work-around is good or bad for their side of the issue.