While many states passed sweeping abortion laws last year, the Iowa General Assembly endorsed just one - a perplexing measure befitting one of the few legislatures under divided control.
The GOP-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate, in a compromise, put Gov. Terry Branstad in charge of signing off on any payments for publicly funded abortions. Republicans believed the added scrutiny might be a brake on abortions under Medicaid. Democrats noted the measure applied only to reimbursements, not approval ahead of time.
But about seven months after the new rule took effect, the consequences have surprised everyone, and illustrated the trickiness of bipartisan lawmaking on the issue. Branstad, a Republican and abortion opponent, hasn't approved any payments. But the few patients who were eligible for Medicaid-funded abortions received them anyway.
That's because the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics - where most of these procedures have been done in past years - simply decided not to bill the state for the 15 it had performed as of mid-February.