Two bills before the Legislature seek to make it more onerous to get or provide an abortion in Iowa. Recently, the House approved a bill that would ban abortions by telemedicine although telemedicine has proved to be a safe, effective way for Iowans in remote areas to receive a doctor’s care. The procedure itself is a routine, safe alternative to surgical abortion. This ban is particularly unfair in targeting women who cannot easily make direct contact with a doctor. Meanwhile, Rep. Greg Heartsill has introduced a bill to provide grounds for a lawsuit based on distress or injury as a result of an abortion, even though the legal right to bring such a suit already exists. The bill is unnecessary and gratuitous; its only objective to discourage doctors from performing abortions. The bills threaten abortion providers and compound existing obstacles for women considering abortion.
These bills are part of a nationwide mosaic of tactics aimed at limiting access to contraception and abortion. The effect is to dismantle the ability of women and girls to control their own lives, especially those who already face limitations imposed by poverty, geography or age. To strip women of the freedom to decide what course of action is in their own best interest is to insist that they cannot be trusted to make responsible decisions about their own well-being and the well-being of their families. Women must be allowed to make these choices free from harassment either on the sidewalks or in the legislature.