Targeting a Nebraska doctor, an Iowa House panel has voted to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and only allow exceptions when the mother’s life is at risk.
The House Ways and Means Committee rejected a Senate proposal which would have set up a state permit process for clinics, with rules written to prevent a Nebraska doctor who performs late-term abortions from opening a clinic in Council Bluffs, Iowa, across the river from Omaha.
Representative Dawn Pettengill, a Republican, says the Senate bill didn’t go far enough.
“We are addressing it again to keep Dr. (Leroy) Carhart out of our state,” Petengill says. “The bill that the senate passed only kept him out of Council Bluffs. It didn’t keep him out of the state.”
Representative Janet Petersen, a Democrat, told her colleagues last night there were more important matters for legislators to consider.
“Democrats came back today focused on balancing the state budget to avoid a government shut-down,” Petersen said. “Instead, we’ve waited around all afternoon for your party to get enough of your members here to pass a divisive issue.”
Representative Anesa Kajtazovic, a Democrat, also opposed the bill.
“This is not abortion on demand,” Kajtazovic said. “These are pregnancies that are wanted by families and by these women and for you to be politicizing such a private decision is just so sad to see.”
Petersen suggested the proposal would even classify an emergency caesarian as an abortion.
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.
The reworked proposal is scheduled for House debate on Wednesday.