Iowa House Committee Passes Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 22, 2017   |   6:14PM   |   Des Moines, Iowa

An Iowa bill to protect unborn babies from painful, late-term abortions is one step closer to becoming law.

The Des Moines Register reports a state House subcommittee approved the bill on Wednesday, moving it forward to a full committee for consideration.

Iowa Senate File 471, which passed the state Senate earlier this month, would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when strong scientific evidence indicates unborn babies can feel pain. It also would allow abortions up to 24 weeks on unborn babies diagnosed with an anomaly considered to be “incompatible with life,” according to the report. An individual who violates the law could face felony charges.

The Senate also adopted a unique amendment to the bill to prohibit abortions before 20 weeks if the unborn baby is viable, according to the newspaper. The amendment addresses the possibility of future medical advancements that would push back the point when a baby is viable outside the womb.

Here’s more from the report:

Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, led a House subcommittee on the 20-week ban Wednesday. The three-person panel voted to advance the bill to a full committee, but Lundgren said it faces a tough road as some Republicans continue to push for stricter “personhood” legislation that would define life as beginning at conception, effectively banning all abortions.

“There are a lot of our caucus who are very (supportive of) life at conception, period,” Lundgren said, noting that’s why a previous bill banning abortion after 20 weeks did not advance in the House.

“It’s not that I’m not (for) life at conception, either. I campaigned on that,” she said. “But some of us are willing to take an incremental look at how we can start to save lives immediately.”

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Another Iowa bill that would have recognized unborn babies as people and banned all abortions failed to make it out of a state Senate committee earlier this month.

Jenifer Bowen of Iowa Right to Life previously told the Des Moines Register that she is glad the 20-week pain-capable abortion ban is moving forward. With similar laws in 16 other states, Bowen said she does not expect abortion activists to challenge Iowa’s if it becomes law.

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 late-term abortions at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy in 2013 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another approximate 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.