LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ In defiance of an order from a federal judge, Gov. Mike Huckabee on Friday refused to allow Medicaid to pay for the abortion of a 15-year-old girl whose stepfather has been charged with incest.

While federal law requires Medicaid to fund abortions for poor women in cases of rape or incest, Huckabee said through a spokesman his first obligation is to the Arkansas Constitution, which forbids public funds to be used for abortion except when the mother's life is in danger.

State attorneys say the governor's refusal to authorize the $430 payment did not reflect his well-known opposition to abortion, but is part of a strategy to protect the state's position in a pending lawsuit in state court.

In that lawsuit, scheduled to go to trial in September, an anti-abortion advocate is seeking an order compelling Arkansas' withdrawal from the Medicaid program because of the state constitutional provision.

Failure to uphold federal law could lead to the state losing its federal funding for Medicaid. The state could lose about $1 billion if it no longer participates in the program, which provides health care for the poor and elderly.