House adopts ‘prerequisites for abortion’ bill

Baby in WombBy Bob Eschliman


Christian conservatives who advocate for personhood often decry bills that fall short of abolishing abortion as “and then you get to kill the baby” bills.

For nearly five hours Thursday, the Iowa House of Representatives debated a bill that made that figurative statement far more literal. House Democrats threw every legislative and procedural weapon in their arsenal in an effort to thwart the Republican-led effort, but came up short.

House File 573 ultimately passed on a 57-39 vote with four abstentions – state Reps. Gary Carlson (R-Muscatine), Dave Dawson (D-Sioux City), Nancy Dunkel (D-Dyersville), and Rick Olson (D-Des Moines).

Essentially, the bill establishes a new section of code titled “Prerequisites for Abortion.”

The bill states that a physician performing an abortion shall certify the following in a woman’s medical record prior to performing an abortion:

  • the woman has undergone an ultrasound imaging of the unborn child that displays the child’s approximate age,
  • the woman is given the opportunity to see the unborn child by viewing the ultrasound image, and
  • the woman is given the option of hearing a description of her unborn child based on the ultrasound image and hearing the child’s heartbeat.

Under HF 573, a physician who does not comply with the law, if adopted, would be subject to license discipline pursuant to Iowa Code 148.6. The proposed legislation defines “abortion” as it is defined in Iowa Code 146.1.

Originally, the bill used the term “fetus” in lieu of “unborn child.” An amendment filed by state Rep. Greg Heartsill (R-Melcher-Dallas), which was approved on a voice vote, changed the wording.

Democrats, led by state Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames), offered nearly 40 amendments to the bill, some the completely rewrote the entire bill – one sought to change it to an appropriations bill to fund Ebola vaccinations – while most sought to add onerous regulatory hoops.

Only a few of the amendments were ever actually voted on, and none of them were adopted. Most were heavily debated, and then withdrawn, in an effort to wear down the resolve of Republicans.

Democrats caucused twice for nearly an hour, and then nearly a half hour, respectively. Republicans caucused once for nearly 45 minutes.

When the final vote was called, Rule 75 was invoked by Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha). Rule 75 requires all legislators present in the chamber to cast a vote on a question, unless excused before the question is called.

The legislators for voted for approval of HF 573 were: Rob Bacon (R-Slater), Chip Baltimore (R-Boone), Clel Baudler (R-Greenfield), Terry Baxter (R-Garner), Brian Best (R-Glidden), Darrel Branhagen (R-Decorah), Josh Byrnes (R-Osage), Peter Cownie (R-West Des Moines), Dave Deyoe (R-Nevada), Cecil Dolecheck (R-Mount Ayr), Jack Drake (R-Griswold), Dean Fisher (R-Garwin), Greg Forristall (R-Macedonia), Joel Fry (R-Osceola), Tedd Gassman (R-Scarville), Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford), Stan Gustafson (R-Cumming), Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights), Mary Ann Hanusa (R-Council Bluffs), Greg Heartsill (R-Melcher-Dallas), David Heaton (R-Mount Pleasant), Lee Hein (R-Monticello), Jake Highfill (R-Johnston), Steven Holt (R-Denison), Daniel Huseman (R-Aurelia), Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids), Ron Jorgensen (R-Sioux City), Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton), Jarad Klein (R-Keota), Kevin Koester (R-Ankeny), John Kooiker (R-Boyden), John Landon (R-Ankeny), Dave Maxwell (R-Gibson), Linda Miller (R-Bettendorf), Norlin Mommsen (R-DeWitt), Brian Moore (R-Bellevue), Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant), Ross Paustian (R-Walcott), Dawn Pettengill (R-Mount Auburn), Ken Rizer (R-Cedar Rapids), Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls), Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville), Tom Sands (R-Wapello), Mike Sexton (R-Rockwell City), Larry Sheets (R-Moulton), Dave Sieck (R-Glenwood), Chuck Soderberg (R-Le Mars), Quentin Stanerson (R-Center Point), Sally Stutsman (D-Riverside), Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake), Guy Vander Linden (R-Oskaloosa), Ralph Watts (R-Adel), and Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames), John Wills (R-Spirit Lake), Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley), Gary Worthan (R-Storm Lake), and Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha).

Stutsman and Wessel-Kroeschell later issued statements, which were entered into the House Journal, that they had inadvertently voted “aye” when they had intended for vote “nay.” That, however, does not change the official vote.

Those who voted against approval of HF 573 were: Ako Abdul-Samad (D-Des Moines), Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines), Bruce Bearinger (D-Oelwein), Liz Bennett (D-Cedar Rapids), Deborah Berry (D-Waterloo), Timi Brown-Powers (D-Waterloo), Dennis Cohoon (D-Burlington), Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque), John Forbes (D-Urbandale), Ruth Ann Gaines (D-Des Moines), Mary Gaskill (D-Ottumwa), Chris Hall (D-Sioux City), Curt Hanson (D-Fairfield), Lisa Heddens (D-Ames), Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines), Charles Isenhart (D-Dubuque), Dave Jacoby (D-Coralville), Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk), Dan Kelley (D-Newton), Bob Kressig (D-Cedar Falls), Vicki Lensing (D-Iowa City), Jim Lykam (D-Davenport), Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City), Charlie McConkey (D-Council Bluffs), Brian Meyer (D-Des Moines), Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge), Jo Oldson (D-Des Moines), Scott Ourth (D-Ackworth), Todd Prichard (D-Charles City), Patti Ruff (D-McGregor), Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D-Cedar Rapids), Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown), Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids), Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City), Rob Taylor (R-West Des Moines) Todd Taylor (D-Cedar Rapids), Phyllis Thede (D-Davenport), Cindy Winckler (D-Davenport), and Mary Lynn Wolfe (D-Clinton).


CLICK HERE to view full video of the House proceedings with regard to HF 573.