Iowa House passes ban on late-term abortions

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[JURIST] The Iowa House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday passed a bill [text] that would prohibit doctors from performing late-term abortions [JURIST news archive] in the state. The bill, which was prompted by Nebraska’s decision to ban abortions performed after 20 weeks of gestation [JURIST report], was passed by the Republican-held body to preemptively prohibit a Nebraska doctor from performing the procedure [AP report] in Iowa. The doctor indicated after the procedure was banned in Nebraska that he would open a clinic in Iowa near the Nebraska border in order to continue offering the procedure to women. Democratic critics of the bill likened it to using a sledge hammer to kill a fly [statement]. The bill, which does not include an exception for rape or incest, requires that late term pregnancy complications meet a threshold of “immediate danger” to garner exception from the ban. The legislation is justified as a way to protect women’s health stating, “Abortion has a higher medical risk when the procedure is performed later in the pregnancy. Compared to an abortion at eight weeks gestation or earlier, the relative risk increases exponentially at higher gestations. The incidence of major complications is highest after twenty weeks of gestation.” Friday’s bill follows Iowa’s third anti-abortion bill which passed on Wednesday, and calls for strict regulations of clinics and doctor’s offices where abortions are provided. The legislation must now be approved by the state’s Senate where it is unclear whether the measure has enough support for approval.

Several state legislatures have recently passed restrictions on abortions [JURIST report]. Last week, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard [official website] signed [JURIST report] HB 1217 into law, requiring women to seek counseling at a pregnancy center and wait three days before obtaining an abortion. Also in March, the Missouri House of Representatives [official website] voted in favor of legislation restricting late-term abortions [JURIST report] and imposing penalties on doctors who fail to comply with the new restrictions. The legislation, which is slated to become effective at the end of August, bans abortions of “viable” fetuses. The Oklahoma House of Representatives [official website] voted in March to approve a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation [JURIST report]. In February, the Kansas House of Representatives [official website] also approved several new restrictions on abortion [JURIST report].

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