Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas Friday refused to authorize a Medicaid payment for an abortion for a 15-year-old girl whose stepfather has been charged with incest, despite a federal judge’s order that the payment was required by federal law.
Through a spokesman, Huckabee said his first obligation was to obey the Arkansas Constitution, rather than federal law. The state constitution includes an amendment banning the use of public money for abortion except when a mother’s life is endangered; the federal statute requires that Medicaid pay for abortions that are performed on poor women in cases of rape or incest or a threat to the mother’s life.
Aides to Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, emphasized that his refusal to authorize the payment of the $430 claim did not reflect his well-known opposition to abortion but was a carefully considered strategy to protect the state’s position in a pending lawsuit in a state court.