Donald Trump's federal budget and the now-defeated American Health Care Act placed the fight for abortion access squarely in Washington for the last several weeks. However, Republican lawmakers across the country have remained hard at work, chipping away at Americans' reproductive rights. A new anti-choice bill from the Iowa state legislature is one of the most restrictive abortion laws ever introduced, with the potential to ban all abortions in the state entirely.
The bill has three main provisions, each one scarier than the last. The first has unfortunately become commonplace among Republican legislatures — it would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks, providing only exceptions in cases where the mother's life is endangered (and not in instances of rape or incest).
The second stipulation of the bill would allow parents of unmarried adult women to sue abortion providers for an injunction against the abortion. The state of Iowa also legally requires minors to notify a parent if they are seeking an abortion, so minors with disagreeable parents would be without any recourse to confidentially end a pregnancy.
Finally, the "personhood" provision would legally define life as starting at conception, and grant fetuses all the same rights as living people. This part of the bill is very likely to get struck down by a court if it does become law, but in the unlikely event that it's upheld, the provision would ban all abortions in Iowa. However, the abortion rate in Iowa is already so low that the law would barely make a difference — less than 5,000 abortions were provided in Iowa in 2014, a 23 percent decline since 2011. Between 2011 and 2016, 14 Iowa abortion providers closed, citing "business decisions," according to Bloomberg. The market for abortions doesn't seem to be prevalent at all in Iowa, yet Republican lawmakers are still determined to legislate it out of existence entirely.
Scarier still, the bill could actually pass. Iowan Republicans are ostensibly unopposed in their state legislature — according to Ballotpedia, they hold 59 out of 100 State House seats and 29 out of 50 State Senate seats. Bills only need a simple majority to pass through the statehouse, meaning this bill, or a version of it, could end up on the (Republican) governor's desk. The ramifications of this bill's passage could be devastating for women across the country, as it would likely inspire copycat bills in other Republican-controlled state governments.
This bill is the latest, but certainly won't be the last, affront to reproductive freedom in this country, so make sure you speak out loudly and firmly against it.