Iowa Legislature Approves 20-Week Abortion Ban

The Iowa state House took a final vote Wednesday night on legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill passed the House 75-22 largely along party lines with all but one Republican supporting the measure, and all Democrats opposing it. The vote comes a little more than a month after the Iowa Senate passed the same measure.

Iowa law currently prohibits abortions after the end of the second trimester. If the new bill is signed into law, Iowa will become the 18th state to ban abortion after 20 weeks. Both Kentucky and Ohio have set 20-week abortion restrictions this year in the latest Republican efforts to enact stronger measures to protect the unborn.

The bill stipulates a mandatory three-day waiting period for women seeking an abortion. Another provision voted on by the House requires women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion could take place.

Iowa’s new law would provide an exception for woman to access pregnancy-termination procedures only if her life or health were in jeopardy.

The bill has been lauded by pro-life groups who claim that the restrictions would help reduce the overall number of abortions performed in Iowa.

Iowa’s divided state legislature had long aided Democrats’ efforts to shield the state from a swath of tighter abortion restrictions, but Republicans now control every branch of Iowa’s state government for the first time in twenty years after they won enough seats in last November’s election to retake the Iowa Senate for the first time since they lost a majority in that body in 2006.

The bill will now go to Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law as one his final actions as governor. During Branstad’s final Condition of the State address at the Iowa capital in January he urged lawmakers to defund Planned Parenthood, signaling to many that he may continue to push for tougher anti-abortion measures during his remaining time in office.

Branstad was tapped by President Trump last December to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China, although he has yet to be confirmed to the post. Reports from RadioIowa suggest that Branstad may resign his office as soon as the last week of April, meaning a possible U.S. Senate confirmation could come late April or early May.

Republican lawmakers in Iowa have been busy in recent weeks introducing new legislation targeted at reforming collective bargaining and workers’ compensation laws, expanding gun rights and implementing a new voter identification law.

About the Author

Samuel Fry
Samuel is a junior studying political science at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. A Seventh-day Adventist, he is passionate about the intersection of politics and religion. When not writing, Samuel enjoys exploring Michigan's wilderness and Great Lakes.