Published On: Mon, Apr 24th, 2017

Iowa passes 20-week ban on abortions, adds 3 day waiting period

The Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature has approved a bill that would ban most abortions in the state at 20 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape, incest or fatal fetal conditions.

The state Senate voted 30-20 for the legislation and the state House approved it earlier this month. The bill heads to GOP Gov. Terry Branstad, who is expected to sign it.

Sen. Mark Costello, R-Imogene, recounted his wife’s pregnancy, stating that “At 20 weeks, the baby is fully formed and developed.”

20 week baby photo/ screenshot of YouTube video

Democrats disagreed and protested.

Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said the legislation fails to address situations where women had wanted to have a healthy baby, but something went terribly wrong. She told of two women she knows who became pregnant with fetuses that never developed a brain. One woman terminated the pregnancy, and the other carried the fetus to term, only to have the baby die after one hour of life.

“This is not a decision that women willy-nilly make, or on an impulse. These are heart wrenching, gut-wrenching decisions,” Jochum said.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said waiting periods for abortions are harmful to women and their families. He said they are especially a burden for rural women who have to make two trips to visit doctors to obtain an abortion. He criticized provisions in the bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion and to receive what he described as “biased” counseling. He complained the exceptions allowing abortions are so narrow in the bill that a woman would have to be nearly dead to be eligible for an abortion after 20 weeks.

“Extreme abortion bans will do nothing to lower the number of abortions,” Bolkcom said. “Remember that abortions are a legal procedure in Iowa.”

At least 19 other states have approved similar 20-week bans, which are based on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain at that stage. Some have been halted amid court challenges.

The legislation would also require a woman to wait 72 hours before she could get an abortion.

The new three-day waiting period would be among the strictest in the nation. Twenty-seven other states have some kind of waiting period, though most are only a single-day restriction. Iowa would become the sixth state in the country to require a three-day waiting period for women seeking abortions, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute.


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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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