April 30, 2018 (Des Moines, IA) – The Iowa House is scheduled to debate SF 359, a bill that bans fetal tissue donation and research, on Tuesday, May 1. The bill includes a committee amendment that would make abortion functionally illegal after six weeks – an extreme move that defies all medical and legal standards of women’s reproductive health and constitutional rights.
SF 359, which was first introduced in and passed through the Senate in 2017, advanced out of committee in the House on March 15 by a vote of 12-9.
“Planned Parenthood strongly opposes this bill in all its forms. As a ban on fetal tissue research, the bill would prevent many Iowa families from getting life-saving treatments and block scientists from finding potential cures for dozens of medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s Chorea. If amended to include the ‘heartbeat’ abortion restriction, the bill would be a blatantly unconstitutional ban on a safe, legal medical procedure and unconscionable interference with a woman’s right to bodily autonomy,” said Erin Davison-Rippey, public affairs director for PPHeartland and Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa.
Rep. Ken Rizer of Cedar Rapids has also filed amendments that would turn the bill into an equally unconstitutional 15-week ban on abortion, similar to the legislation recently passed in Mississippi. The Mississippi legislation is currently blocked by the courts. Once again, Planned Parenthood strongly opposes any restriction on abortion.
“There is nothing good that can come of this proposed legislation, which is all part of a radical agenda to chip away at safe, legal abortion one law at a time," said Davison-Rippey. "These extreme politicians in Iowa are desperate to pass any kind of legislation that imposes their beliefs on everyone and control women’s bodies, yet constituents and many lawmakers alike have made it clear that this legislation is unpopular. It’s time for these politicians to get the message, pack it up and go home.”
This bill is widely opposed by many in the medical and legal community, including the Iowa Medical Society, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, COPIC, Family Planning Council of Iowa, the Iowa Clinic, Iowa Independent Physician Group, ACLU of Iowa, Iowa Board of Regents, and Planned Parenthood, as well as religious groups including Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and Annual Conference of United Methodist Church.
The Iowa Medical Society has testified that if the abortion ban is enacted, the University of Iowa will lose its OB/GYN residency program – the only such program in the state. Iowa already has a shortage of OB/GYNs per capita, ranking 50 out of 51 states including the District of Columbia.