With stronger abortion restrictions advancing in the state legislature, Iowa is close to becoming the 20th state to bar abortion after 20 weeks.
The Iowa House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy, require a three-day waiting period for abortion, and require an ultrasound for women considering an abortion.
Last month, the Iowa Senate approved the 20-week abortion ban, but it must now review and approve provisions the House added such as the three-day waiting period and other changes.
Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to sign the bill. At a pro-life rally, he pledged to be “a strong advocate for the unborn.”
The Iowa Catholic Conference, in an action alert on the Iowa Senate’s version of the bill, said the legislation would update state law to “reflect the advances made in saving the lives of infants over the past 40 years.”
“Unborn children at 20 weeks post-fertilization, once considered too young to survive, are now doing so at an increasing rate,” the conference said. “An abortion will no longer be performed at or beyond that point (under the legislation) unless there is a serious threat to the long-term health or life of the mother.”
State Rep. Shannon Lundgren, the bill’s floor manager, also spoke in favor of the bill.
“Today we make a stand for our unborn girls and boys who will become men and women,” she said. “This is the first of many bills that I hope we pass as legislators to defend our unborn children.”
Nineteen other states have bans on abortion after 20 weeks, the Associated Press reports.
The House bill, passed by a 55-41 vote, would also require a woman seeking an abortion to be given a chance to view the ultrasound and hear the baby’s heartbeat. She would also be given information about adoption.
All Democrats and one Republican voted against the bill. Opponents said the medical community was not consulted and said that the bill was unnecessary given declines in the abortion rate.
The Iowa Catholic Conference noted that most states that neighbor Iowa have a 20-week abortion ban in place. Another neighbor, the state of Missouri, will consider a ban this legislative session.
“We are concerned Iowa might become a destination for late-term abortion providers without this legislation,” the Catholic conference said on its website in an action alert about the Senate bill.
A coalition of Republican legislators tried to pass a six-week abortion ban, the period after which a heartbeat is detected. They lacked the votes to pass it.
The Iowa House has also approved a non-binding amendment stating the legislature’s interest in protecting all unborn life.