Despite emotional testimony from women who claimed they were harmed by abortions, Iowa lawmakers were told that legislation to create a new cause of action based on physical injury or emotional distress is unnecessary and would have a chilling effect on abortion providers.
Sponsor Rep. Greg Heartsill, R-Melcher-Dallas, said the legislation is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’ Roe v. Wade decision that said the state has a legitimate interest in protecting the safety of women.
“If this is the legal premise” for abortion services, he said, “then it supports the bill.”
Lobbyists for the Iowa Medical Society, ACLU-Iowa and Iowa Clinic, PC, told lawmakers the cause of action exists in current law. Singling out one medical procedure will have a “chilling effect” on physicians who offer that service, Karla Fultz of Iowa Clinic said. The bill “feels like an attempt to intimidate providers,” added Erin Davison-Rippey of Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa.
Brianna Pfadenhauer recalled her frightening experiences when she had an abortion while a college student. She was not prepared for what would happen during and after the abortion, she said, nor the guilt, embarrassment and shame she has felt since then.
“I trusted my life to someone who didn’t properly prepare me for what was going to happen,” Pfadenhauer said after the meeting.
HF 2098 would amount to a “backdoor abortion ban” that would jeopardize women’s health, said Latrice Lacey of the ACLU.
Dennis Tibben of the Iowa Medical Society raised the concern that the bill would extend the statute of limitations to 10 years – longer in some cases, a standard that exceeds current law.
Tamara Scott from Concerned Women for America-Iowa defended a longer statute of limitations because a woman may not suffer the emotional distress for years because “after trauma, suppression is a defense mechanism.”
HF 2098 also was supported by The Family Leader, Iowa Catholic Conference and.
If Heartsill is interested in working on broad medical malpractice reform “not just one very safe procedure,” Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, said she would join him. She questioned the need for HF 2098 because “there are more dangerous procedures than what we’re talking about here today.”
Still Heartsill called it a “necessary bill to move forward.” He and Rep. Megan Hess, R-Spencer, signed off on the bill, sending it to the full Judiciary Committee.
To remain eligible for legislative approval, HF 2098 would have to win approval of the full committee before Feb. 21 to meet the Legislature’s self-imposed funnel deadline.
Even then, its fate is uncertain.
“I think we want to have a discussion on that bill. I haven’t read it completely but I don’t think that’s one that we’ll necessarily worry about making sure it gets through the funnel,” House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, said.
“I don’t think we’re under the impression there’s consensus around that bill right now,” House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, added.
Approval in the Senate seems unlikely, according to Judiciary Chairman Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, who said he was unaware of the proposal.