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Iowa is only one step away from banning abortion after 20 weeks

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

DES MOINES, Iowa, April 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Iowa legislature has passed a bill banning most abortions at 20 weeks with no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomalies.

The state Senate voted 30-20 on Tuesday to approve Senate File 471 after heated debate, according to The Des Moines Register. The state House had approved its companion bill earlier this month.

The law includes a 72-hour waiting period and exceptions for the life of the child’s mother.

It would make Iowa the sixth U.S. state to have a three-day waiting period for an abortion, according to data from the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute.

Seventeen other states have banned abortion at 20 weeks, the point during pregnancy at which research has shown the unborn child can feel pain.

The 30 yes votes came from Republicans and one independent. All of the nos were cast by Democrats.

The GOP holds majorities in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature.

Democrats argued fervently argued against abortion ban.

Senator Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said the legislation does not address scenarios where women had desired a healthy baby, but something went terribly wrong, the Register reported. 

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

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said abortion waiting periods are detrimental to women and their families. Waiting periods especially burden rural women who have to make two trips to have an abortion, he said.

Bolkcom also criticized stipulations in the measure requiring women to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion and to receive what he called "biased" counseling. The exceptions in the bill are so narrow, he complained, that a woman would have to be nearly dead to qualify for an abortion after 20 weeks.

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

Sen. Mark Costello, R-Imogene, a father of five who managed SF-471 on the Senate floor, described placing his hand on his pregnant wife's stomach when she was five months along and how he could feel the baby kicking.

"At 20 weeks, the baby is fully formed and developed," Costello said.

Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, had tried to modify the bill adding a provision to ban abortions one week after fertilization, but a vote was not allowed because of a Senate rule issue.

Noting that the GOP controls the House, Senate and the governor's office, Bertrand charged fellow Republicans with not pushing hard enough for a stronger pro-life bill.

While Republican legislators have been willing to "go to the mat" on collective bargaining and workers compensation bills, he said, they have failed to show such strong commitment in preserving the sanctity of life.

"I keep asking the question I have been asking from Day One,” Bertrand stated. “If not now, when?"

A life-at-conception bill that had widespread support from pro-life groups in the state failed to make it out of Senate committee and was not taken up by the Iowa House. The Iowa Catholic Conference supported the 20-week ban but did not back proposed life-at-conception legislation.

Groups opposing the 20-week abortion ban include Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Family Planning Council of Iowa, the League of Women Voters of Iowa, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund, and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The bill now goes to Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk, where it is expected to get his signature.

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