Despite a declaration by one Iowa Senate Republican earlier this session that a personhood bill would be brought to a vote this session, no such bill has materialized with less than 48 hours to go before the first funnel deadline.
The first funnel is the end of business Friday – typically a traveling day for legislators – and is the deadline for bills from individual legislators to move out of committee in their respective chambers. Bills offered this session that do not move out of committee prior to the funnel date would require a suspension of the rules or substantial procedural navigation – keeping in mind Democrats control the Senate – or would have to wait until next session to be considered again.
But that hasn’t prevented Iowa Senate Republicans, including the alleged author of the personhood bill, to present an alternative abortion bill that does not address personhood. Senate File 362 relates to the survival of a civil litigation in cases involving the death of a person.
The proposed legislation defines a person to include “an unborn child who has reached viability.” The bill further defines viability to be “that state of fetal development when the life of the unborn child may be continued indefinitely outside the womb by natural or artificial life support systems.”
SF 362 notes that the time frame at which viability is achieved will vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. It leaves the determination of viability “of a particular fetus” up to “responsible medical judgment.”
The Iowa Catholic Conference supports the bill. The Iowa State Bar Association and the Iowa Defense Counsel Association have declared they are “undecided.”