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DES MOINES — Despite Democratic opposition to a Republican-backed amendment to lessen the penalty, the Iowa House unanimously approved legislation to allow victims of assisted reproductive fraud to seek legal damages and perpetrators could face misdemeanor charges.
The House approved the Senate change that would reduce the charge from sexual abuse in the third degree, a Class C felony, to sexual abuse in the fourth degree, an aggravated misdemeanor.
“That just doesn’t make sense to me,” said Rep. Kristin Sunde, D-Des Moines. “I don't understand why we would think that's a lesser crime and should have a lesser penalty.”
Senate File 529 was among handful of bills the House approved on final passage Tuesday.
The so-call “fraud in assisted reproduction act” addresses circumstances in which Iowans seeking help in getting pregnant instead are the victims of unethical health care providers who took advantage of their vulnerable situations.
The bill would address issues arising from procedures such as in vitro fertilization when people later discover their children are not their biological children or they learn their parents aren’t actually their biological parents. In an Indiana case, a doctor used his own sperm in procedures with unknowing patients, resulting in over 60 children. In other cases, the sperm samples were misplaced and another person’s sample was used instead.
Donors also have had their samples used more times than they specified for, which is another form of fraud. Currently, there is no way to seek criminal or civil action against the offending party after this has been discovered.
“What an incredible violation,” Sunde said. “If you put your sperm in my body without my permission to me, you should be held to a level of rape.”
After the amendment was approved on a voice vote, the House voted unanimously to send the bill to the governor.
First Amendment rights
The House also approved changes in House File 744 to create requirements in First Amendment rights training for schools and regents’ universities. The House removed a requirement that regents annually appoint a nonpartisan free speech committee to receive complaints. Rep. Dustin Hite, R-New Sharon, said the regents do that now.
Another House amendment would require that teachers “knowingly and intentionally” violate a student’s free speech rights before being subject to discipline by the Board of Educational Examiners.
The bill was approved 92-1, with only Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, voting “no.”
Other bills approved
SF 356, the Iowa Agricultural Tourism Promotion Act, was approved 53-40 with two Republicans joining Democrats in opposing provisions of the bill to limit, and in most cases exempt, the agricultural tourism farmer and the agricultural tourism professional from liability including injury, loss, or death of a tourist.
HF 839 allows brokers, investment advisers and qualified individuals to notify the state Insurance commissioner if they believe financial exploitation of an eligible adult has been attempted or occurred.
HF 855 allows an adopted person whose original birth certificate was substituted with a new certificate after an adoption to apply for and obtain a non-certified copy of the original birth certificate.
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