IOWA LEGISLATURE

Abortion-related bills move forward in Iowa House

Proposals deal with options to abortion, handling of fetal remains

The Iowa State House chamber on Thur. Mar 11, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The Iowa State House chamber on Thur. Mar 11, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — Two bills that opponents called attacks on women’s right to an abortion were moved forward in the Iowa House on Thursday by lawmakers who said the proposals promote the respectful treatment of fetal remains and fully inform women considering abortion of their options.

“When I want a second opinion, I don’t go to the Legislature,” Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D- Ames, said about House Study Bill 672, which called for physicians to give women information relating to the effectiveness and possibility of avoiding, ceasing or reversing the effects of a medication abortion. “We’ve gone really low in this Legislature, but asking physicians to lie goes beyond reproach.”

House Human Resources Chairwoman Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, rejected that notion.

Information about the efficacy of reversing medication abortions — presented by those for and against abortion — may be contradictory, Lundgren said, but she couldn’t believe people would oppose giving women more information about their health care.

“A woman faced with this situation should have every ounce of information available,” Lundgren said.

A medication abortion is one induced by a drug, such as mifepristone and misoprostol, administered with the intent to terminate a pregnancy.

FETAL REMAINS

Earlier in the day, another Human Resources subcommittee advanced a bill outlining how fetal remains — from abortions as well as miscarriages — should be handled by health care facilities.

HSB 660 would provide that when a fetal death occurs, medical personnel shall inform the woman that she may determine the final disposition of the remains.

The bill was spurred, at least in part, by an Indiana case where nearly 2,400 fetal remains were found in the garage of a doctor who performed abortions, said Rep. Rob Bacon, R-Slater.

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Regardless of one’s views on abortion, he argued, “this is human life that should be treated with respect.”

Tom Chapman of the Iowa Catholic Conference echoed that, saying that in his faith, burying the dead is an act of mercy.

“Whether people oppose or support abortion, I think the least we can do is ensure that all human remains, including the bodily remains of all unborn children, are treated with dignity and respect,” Chapman said.

In both hearings, opponents argued the bills are part of a larger attempt to ban abortion in Iowa.

One part of HSB 660 would require the filing of a death certificate for fetal deaths occurring after 12 weeks gestation. Current law specifies 20 weeks. Committee members debated whether that would require parents to give a name to the fetal remains.

Women who said they had suffered multiple miscarriages told the subcommittee it would be offensive to require them to put a name on a death certificate and would add to the trauma of their loss.

“We’re regulating grief,” Wessel-Kroeschell said. “I can’t bring myself to think we have to tell women how to grieve.”

Both bills now are eligible for consideration by the full Human Resources Committee.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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