Iowa Legislature Passes Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks

State   Micaiah Bilger   Apr 19, 2017   |   12:59PM    Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday to protect unborn babies from painful, late-term abortions.

The Courier reports the state Senate voted 30-20 to approve the bill Tuesday, sending it to Gov. Terry Branstad for his signature. Branstad, a pro-life Republican, is expected to sign the bill.

The bill would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks on unborn babies who are capable of feeling pain; exceptions would be allowed to save the mother’s life. It will require women to wait 72 hours between informed consent counseling and the abortion. The bill also will increase reporting requirements for abortion practitioners and the state Department of Public Health, according to the local news.

Jenifer Bowen, a spokeswoman for Iowa Right to Life, celebrated the news as a victory for unborn babies.

“History is made!” she wrote Tuesday on Facebook. “While our work is far from over, this session and beyond, we are already in the most Pro-Life legislative session in Iowa State Capitol history since before Roe v Wade in 1973!”

Here’s more from The Des Moines Register:

Sen. Mark Costello, R-Imogene, a father of five children who was the bill’s floor manager, told of placing his hand on his wife’s stomach when she was five months pregnant and how could feel the baby kicking.

“At 20 weeks, the baby is fully formed and developed,” Costello said.

Democrats passionately argued against the bill.

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Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said the legislation fails to address situations where women had wanted to have a healthy baby, but something went terribly wrong. She told of two women she knows who became pregnant with fetuses that never developed a brain. One woman terminated the pregnancy, and the other carried the fetus to term, only to have the baby die after one hour of life.

An Iowa Planned Parenthood spokesperson previously called the bill “terrible” and claimed it would “force” women to carry and give birth to an “unwanted” child.

Currently, 16 states have pain-capable unborn child protection laws in effect, Kentucky being the most recent. Other states are considering similar bills.

Together, these laws potentially are saving thousands of babies from painful, late-term abortions. There were at least 5,770 abortions at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy in 2013 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another 8,150 abortions took place between 18 weeks and 20 weeks, the CDC reports.

Though abortion advocates deny the science of fetal pain at 20 weeks, researchers have fully established fetal pain at 20 weeks or earlier. Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, is one of the leading researchers into it. He first published reports in the 1980s to validate research showing evidence for unborn pain.

At 20 weeks, the unborn child has all the parts in place – the pain receptors, spinal cord, nerve tracts, and thalamus – needed for transmitting and feeling pain. The unborn child responds to touch as early as week 6; and by week 18, pain receptors have appeared throughout the child’s body.

Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, a professor of neonatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told a U.S. Senate committee last year that “anesthesiologists, and surgeons use pain medication” for unborn babies at the 20 week stage when performing surgery, “because it’s supported by the literature completely.”

“I could never imagine subjecting my tiny patients to a horrific procedure such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection,” Malloy added.

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