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Expanding Medicaid in South Dakota Does Not Pay for Any Abortions, Here or in Other States

I heard another… misrepresentation of Medicaid expansion yesterday. While having a serious conversation about Amendment D, a voter said he’d heard that writing Medicaid expansion into South Dakota’s constitution would force South Dakota to pay for women to travel to other states to abort their pregnancies.

I’m not sure the folks who told my interlocutor that voting Yes on D means paying for abortion travel have read Amendment D correctly.

First, we ought to note that if expanding Medicaid meant paying for abortions, Catholic Avera Health probably would not be a prime supporter of Amendment D.

Second, Medicaid generally doesn’t cover traveling to another state to obtain medical services, absent an emergency.

Third, President Biden’s executive order on protecting women’s right to abortion doesn’t require South Dakota to use its Medicaid funds, current or expanded under Amendment D, to pay for abortions; it only invites states where abortion remains legal to use their own Medicaid funds to cover reproductive services from women who come from states with abortion bans.

Fourth, the Hyde Amendment still prohibits spending federal funds on abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Federal funds cover 90% of Medicaid expansion (95% for the first couple years in South Dakota, once we pass Amendment D). States can opt to cover abortion for Medicaid recipients with state funds, and 16 states do, but South Dakota does not. Amendment D does not change that policy; only the Legislature can do so, and the Legislature is… unlikely to do so.

Fifth, South Dakota’s current Medicaid program pays for abortions only when necessary to protect the woman’s life. (We are the only state to go beyond the Hyde Amendment in restricting Medicaid spending on abortion.) Amendment D would not change that policy.

Sixth, pregnant women, the only people who can have abortions, are already eligible for Medicaid in South Dakota. Amendment D expands Medicaid to other adults age 18 to 64 making up to 138% of the federal poverty level. None of the 42,500 South Dakotans covered by Amendment D would get Medicaid benefits to have an abortion that they could not get right now without Amendment D. Logically and legally, voting for Amendment D does not pay for a single abortion.

So, voters, if someone tells you Amendment D pays for out-of-state abortions, ask them to read Amendment D, ask them to read the points and especially the links I offer above, and then ask them if they would like to revise their obviously incorrect remark.

But I’ve got to wonder: why are so many of the arguments I’m hearing from opponents of Medicaid expansion based on incorrect claims? It’s almost as if no one can come up with a good argument against Amendment D itself….


  1. Edwin Arndt 2022-08-12 09:53

    Oh man! Cory, how many people have the mental stamina to plow through
    all the links (and those links have more links) you provided? My goodness.

  2. 96Tears 2022-08-12 11:35

    Six points! These brain donors won’t remember any of them. They’re addicted to simple lies because that’s all the grey matter they have. The Kitty Werthmann wing of the SDGOP is still alive and (dis)functioning.

  3. All Mammal 2022-08-12 12:16

    Educating yourself past the ninth grade is solely YOUR OWN responsibility. It might entail reading an entire amendment and even clicking on links for full understanding. Something we take for granted. Having access to true information is precious and leaves no excuse to be a drone. There’s no shame these days in choosing to ignore facts. People seem proud to argue with and belittle the know-it-alls. The ones who know things and are kindly sharing what they know are outcast. No matter how lonely it becomes, cloaking your intelligence is never worth it. Dumbing down kills the spirit.

  4. P. Aitch 2022-08-12 14:05

    Tech site Motherboard revealed that Facebook complied with a police search warrant requesting the direct messages of a 17-year-old girl suspected of receiving an abortion that was illegal under Nebraska law.
    – To override this obligation to reveal information Facebook is testing a tweak that would encrypt all Messenger chats by default.
    – Facebook and other social media platforms have a legal responsibility to comply with such warrants, but they generally can’t access or share encrypted data.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-12 14:35

    Hey Edwin, I’m just offering you the opportunity to check the facts I offer and make sure they’re true. But if you’re willing to believe what I’m telling you on face value, that’s fine with me. Thanks!

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