Friday, February 17, 2012

New Abortion Bills Circulating through the Iowa House

The Iowa House is getting some abortion action going these days. House File 2033 is advancing through committees. This pending piece of legislation, if passed, would require doctors to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion and offer the woman the opportunity to review an image of the fetus. Additionally, the doctor would have to offer to provide a description of the ultrasound image and to allow the woman the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat. I guess it’s better than states like Virginia, which are looking at a bill that would require trans-vaginal ultrasounds before each abortion.

The legislators say they want women to make fully informed decisions before receiving an abortion. Personally, I think it’s just one more expensive buffer for women seeking an abortion with the possible result that the women won’t be able to afford the cost of the extra medical procedure.

But the really fun bill is being floated by Iowa Rep. Kim Pearson (R) which would make abortion an act of feticide, which is a Class A felony punishable by life imprisonment without the chance for parole. Attempted feticide (a situation where the fetus does not die) would be a Class B felony punishable by 25 years in prison. People would also be punished for assisting someone in the process of performing an abortion – presumably nurses, though I suppose it could include someone who drove a woman to an abortion clinic or who worked as a secretary or security guard at the clinic.

It’s possible that both of these will pass in the Iowa House, but they are unlikely to be even discussed in the Iowa Senate. Last year, the Iowa House tried tightening its current abortion laws but found those efforts hindered by Pearson because they didn’t go far enough. The tension between this Freshman Republican and a large chunk of her party has been strong enough that she has decided to leave office at the end of her first term instead of trying to run again.

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