Unhappy with the “ban Carhart” compromise bill that was presented in the Senate (a bill that would not ban all later-term abortions but simply put additional roadblocks up that would make Dr. Leroy Carhart unable to open a new clinic in Iowa), a House committee instead voted to revise current feticide laws to ban abortion at 20 weeks.
The House Ways and Means Committee voted 14-8 with three absent to change the feticide section of the Iowa code that currently makes it a felony crime if a pregnancy is intentionally terminated with knowledge and voluntary consent after the end of the second trimester by changing the gestation period to 20 completed weeks and striking an exception to preserve the health of the mother. An exception for circumstances when a physician determines an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the mother would not be affected by the proposed House changes to Senate File 534.
The amended House version also would strike a reference to the viability of a fetus included in the current law which Rep. Dawn Pettengill, R-Mount Auburn, the bill’s manager, said would remove physican discretion provided by the state’s current feticide law.
The result of the change in feticide law — a full 20 week abortion ban unless the mother’s life is in danger. The change is necessary, according to one legislator, because now fetuses are viable at 20 weeks, unlike the ’80s when it was later.
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Radio Iowa reports:
“I don’t have a prepared statement, but I can assure you that this is not about politics,” Pettengill said. “It is about life and the ability of a fetus at 20 weeks and over to live outside of the womb on its own.”
Pettengill said in the early 1980s a fetus may have been considered “viable” at 24 weeks, but that standard has changed because of medical advancements. “A baby is able to be saved a lot sooner and live outside the womb with life support,” Pettengill said.