Iowa Bill Would Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks Over Fetal Pain

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2010   |   1:18PM   |   Des Moines, IA

Iowa legislators are putting their plans to stop LeRoy Carhart from doing late abortions by putting into action their effort to pass a law similar to the one in Nebraska that forced him to leave the state.

State Rep. Matt Windschitl of Missouri Valley says he is in the process of drafting legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the scientific evidence showing unborn children feel pain.

That’s the innovative law Nebraska passed that abortion advocates have yet to challenge in court that drove Carhart to pursue doing abortions in Iowa, Maryland, and Indiana.

“We don’t want Iowa to become the late-term-abortion capital of the United States,” Windschitl said Wednesday, according to the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. “It will be similar to Nebraska’s law. I’m still deciding on what is the best piece of legislation possible that will hold up in the courts.”

The board member of Iowa Right to Life said:  “I’m taking on the fight of Dr. LeRoy Carhart to keep him out of my state.”

Julie Schmit-Albin of Nebraska Right to Life says she is not surprised the Nebraska law is becoming a model for other states.

“This is the premier national right-to-life model legislation,” she told the newspaper, “precisely because it does push the envelope.”

“There were a number of states that were interested, but, as you can imagine, National Right to Life does not want to advertise to our adversaries where we might be headed,” she said of other states that showed interest in the law at its recent national state legislative conference. “I’m glad to see that Rep. Windschitl is talking about it. … I just hope that the Iowa legislators adhere to the Nebraska model closely, because obviously we did something right in Nebraska.”

The Iowa bill would likely make it though the Republican-controlled state House but the Democratic-controlled state Senate is another question.

But Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal told the newspaper the legislation would be given “due consideration.”

Gov.-elect Terry Branstad has already indicated he would sign the legislation.

Meanwhile, the bishop of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese is urging Catholics to stand up against Carhart and be a “cascading voice of opposition” to his plans.

Bishop Richard Pates says Carhart is trying to set up a “terminal enterprise to kill unborn children.”

“Either the individual who is in the mother’s womb will be viable and come to a fullness of life or if they go through with it with the individual like this Carhart, the individual’s life will end,” Pates says. “So I think it’s pretty clear that it’s a matter of life or death.”

“There’s a growing number of people who regard abortion as something that they really don’t want to see transpire because they really do regard it as a matter of life or death,” the bishop said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.

Bishop Pates asked priests in eight parishes in the Council Bluffs area to distribute a note to parishioners the weekend after Thanksgiving asking Catholics to exercise their “public responsibility of protecting the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.” 

“After 20 months of gestation, the individual there obviously feels pain and there is the necessity to really give credence to the emerging life there and to protect it as much as possible,” Pates told Radio Iowa.

The Council Bluffs City Council already voted to ensure Carhart can’t set up shop at one parcel of land the city recently sold.