Iowa ban on fetal tissue sales clears House committee

The State Capitol building is shown in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The State Capitol building is shown in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — A state ban on the sale or donation of fetal tissue will likely win House approval, but opponents of House Study Bill 621, who say prolife interests are politicizing the issue, predict it will not become law.

HSB 621 was approved Tuesday on a party-line vote in the House Human Resources Committee.

Floor manager Rep. Joel Fry, R-Osceola, said passage will make sure “there is a law in place that allows Iowans to understand the fetal tissue is something we don’t take lightly.”

Federal law already makes that statement Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, said.

“It’s absolutely not needed,” she said, citing federal law that prohibits selling human body parts, including lungs and kidneys. “That would be so unethical.”

However, Fry said there is nothing in Iowa Code to prohibit the sale of fetal tissue, which has become a point of controversy in the wake of undercover videos of discussions with Planned Parenthood officials discussing the procurement of fetal tissues when conducting abortions. This controversy continues despite questions about the validity of the footage and an indictment against those who procured it.

“While it may be federal code, we want to make sure we have it in our code,” he said, referring to Iowa law. The bill makes clear “there is no monetary gain for someone to abort their child.”

In addition to being unnecessary, Wessel-Kroeschell said the bill unnecessarily politicizes the issue because HSB 621 would prohibit the donation of fetal tissue from an aborted fetus for research purposes.

“Treating the tissue from a woman who had an abortion versus from a woman who had a miscarriage is wrong,” she said. “There is no difference in the tissue and both are equally valuable in terms of research,” Wessel-Kroeschell said, “But certainly, society and health can benefit from the results of that research and I think we, as a society, deserve that.”


“A child is a child,” Fry said, rejecting the tissue is tissue argument. The bill draws a distinction between “predetermined death” and natural death “and that would be the defining difference for many Iowans, as I understand it,” Fry said.

He wouldn’t speculate on what will happen to the bill if it clears the House and is sent to the Senate.

“Clearly, there wasn’t a lot of opposition in committee on this today,” he said. Fry and Wessel-Kroeschell were the only lawmakers to speak on the bill before the committee voted 12-9 for passage.

Wessel-Kroeschell, however, was quite certain the Democrat-majority Senate will not approve the bill.



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