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In Des Moines News

20-week abortion ban moves to Iowa House

BY KATHERINE BAUER

Abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy could become illegal in Iowa if a bill makes its way out of the Iowa House and is approved by the governor.

Senate File 471 was approved in the Iowa Senate March 14. It passed 32-19 with support from all 29 House Republicans, two Democrats and one independent.

“It’s a good compromise,” said junior Brooke Miller. “That’s why I agree with it a lot. I do fall more on the moderate side of the spectrum. I feel like it is a compromise. I don’t think it would’ve been able to pass without it. Republicans have majority control. But you still have those moderate republicans in Iowa.”

Miller said she’s a republican who identifies as pro-choice. She said the bill allows early abortions to appeal to liberals and still limits them for conservatives.However, pro-choice advocates like Phoebe Clark said she does not think the bill is a compromise at all.

“It looks like a compromise, but it’s really not,” the senior LPS major said. “We’ve seen in other states (especially Texas) that 20-week bans have been the first in a series of more legislation that restricts abortion in different ways and makes it harder to access.”

Clark said the 20-week time frame begins at a woman’s last menstrual period not when she became pregnant.

“(Women) probably won’t know they’re pregnant for a while,” Clark said. “The age of the pregnancy will be calculated from way before any fertilized egg was implanted in their uterine wall.”

However, Miller said the bill looks to not only protect the life of unborn children but also the life of the mother.“It does limit your pro-choice abilities,” Miller said. “(However,) in a normal pregnancy, you should be making that decision before five months anyways in order for your life not to be at risk as a woman. After five months, you’ve made this decision whether or not you want to get an abortion, aside from rape victims, complications later on after five months, and aside from domestic abuse and minors.”

Miller said abortions become riskier the longer a pregnancy goes on. The American Pregnancy Association said common side effects of various late-term abortion methods include nausea and cramping. More severe effects can include heavy or prolonged bleeding, blood clots and perforation of the uterus.

“To learn if I have an abortion after a certain amount of time in a pregnancy, I may not be able to have kids again is a very concerning thought that I wish I would’ve known,” Miller said. “They need to be telling me that when I’m 15 (years old).”

Clark said she recognizes that abortions do become more dangerous later on in a pregnancy. However, she said women and their doctors should make that decision, not legislation.

“(Doctors are) the experts on this issue, and they know how to keep people as safe and as healthy as possible,” Clark said. “Limiting abortion in this way just keeps doctors from doing their jobs.”

Clark also said the bill won’t stop women from seeking abortions, which could lead to unsafe practices.

“If people seeking abortion run out of time to get one legally, I’m sure some of them will attempt to self abort, which gets more difficult and dangerous as the pregnancy matures,” Clark said. “It is fairly likely that people in this situation will die or suffer serious health consequences.”

Ryan Skotzke, a sophomore pro-life proponent, recognizes the concern that women will try to get abortions, even if they’re illegal. He said there is a different path to slowing and stopping the abortion rate.

“If you come out and quickly ban it across the board, you’re not really solving anything,” Skotzke said. “I don’t want to see people terminating pregnancies at will, so you have to build a culture where you don’t have those unwanted pregnancies.”

Skotzke said there are ways to build that type of culture.

“I’m actually against placing restrictions on birth control,” Skotzke said. “A lot of Republicans are going to disagree with me on this. But if you have easy access to birth control … it remains affordable, and maybe (we should) work on better sex education in schools … if you can take these steps to minimize unwanted pregnancy, that will definitely keep the abortion rate down.”

Recently, there have been low rates of abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only 1.3 percent of abortions in 2013 were performed 21 weeks or later in a pregnancy.The vast majority of abortions, 91.6 percent, occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.

Miller said the government should not have an unintended, negative effect with their decisions.

“The risks are lower when you have Planned Parenthood who are experts in those fields and you’re not just having coat hanger abortions,” Miller said, “which is something you don’t want to encourage as a government.”

Clark said she could see the legislation getting through to be signed into law by the governor. However, she said she hopes it won’t come to that.

“It’s very possible,” Clark said, “but I’d much prefer for this to be killed in upcoming debates in the House.”

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