For the second time this year, the Iowa General Assembly has debated a bill that targets a Nebraska doctor who performs late-term abortions.
Nebraska’s ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy took effect in October, and Dr. LeRoy Carhart said he wanted to open a clinic across the border in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
On Monday, the Democratically-led Iowa Senate passed a bill specifically drafted to keep Carhart out of Council Bluffs. Critics say the plan is written in such a way that Carhart would be able to open a clinic in four other Iowa cities.
Senator Nancy Boettger, a Republican from Harlan, Iowa, was blunt. “I’m sick that this bill actually sets up a pathway for late-term abortionists to set up work here in Iowa,” Boettger said. “…I call it the Late Term Abortionist Invitation Bill.”
Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, the Iowa Senate’s Majority Leader, called the bill a compromise that would keep Carhart out of Council Bluffs, while still allowing late-term abortions in the State of Iowa when they’re medically-necessary.
“I reel at the thought of abortion, but I also reel at the thought of telling a woman she must take to term a baby that cannot survive,” Gronstal said. “That’s got to be the most gut-wrenching decision anybody has ever made.”
On March 31st the Republican-led Iowa House passed a bill that would impose the same kind of late-term abortion ban that Nebraska has. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, argues the ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy would be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate, given our budget constraints, to pass things that are unconstitutional that will require the state to defend and spend money to try and address,” Bolkcom said during debate.
The limited abortion restrictions passed the Iowa senate on a 26 to 23 vote. It’s unclear what will happen next in Iowa on this issue, but the state’s Republican governor has said he would sign a law like Nebraska’s that bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.