116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Watching Gov. Terry Branstad sign legislation Thursday known as the “Posthumous Conception Bill” was a long time coming for Patti Beeler of West Branch.
Branstad's signature on House File 245 ensures legitimacy, inheritance and other rights for posthumously conceived and born children like Beeler's daughter, who was conceived after Beeler's husband died. The law, which takes effect July 1, allows children conceived up to two years after a parent dies to receive inheritance rights and Social Security benefits.
Beeler's husband, Bruce, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2000. He banked sperm before undergoing chemotherapy that could cause sterility, hoping the couple could have children after he got well. He did not get better and died in 2001. Beeler later underwent insemination and gave birth to daughter Brynn in 2003, in accordance with her late husband's wishes.
“It felt like the fulfilling of a promise that I made to Bruce a long time ago,” Beeler said after Thursday's signing ceremony in Branstad's formal office at the state Capitol where she received signing pens for herself and her daughter. “It felt like full circle to finish that promise.”
Now, Iowa law will recognize children like her daughter, now 7, who were conceived posthumously. Backers of the change said they expected it would become more common as soldiers in the military bank sperm in the event something happens to them.
“This is a matter of the law finally catching up with science,” said Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, the bill's floor manager in the Senate. Beeler also praised Rep. Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton, for working tirelessly to make changes to inheritance law and state laws for establishing a parent-child relationship in such cases.
"Her story is absolutely nothing shy of inspiring," said Kaufmann, who began working on the legislation about five years ago after getting a phone call from Beeler.