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The Scarlet & Black

20-week abortion ban passes Iowa Senate

The Iowa Senate recently passed Senate File 471, which bans women from receiving abortions after a pregnancy reaches 20 weeks. This bill does not include exemptions even in cases of rape, incest or if the baby will not survive after birth, but does allow abortions in certain circumstances where it has been demonstrated the health of the mother is at risk. The bill also establishes a mandatory three-day waiting period for any woman seeking an abortion.

All of the “yes” votes for this bill were cast by Republican senators and one Independent senator who was registered as a Republican until last summer. The “no” votes were all cast by senate Democrats. The bill passed 30-20.

Once this bill is signed into effect by Governor Terry Branstad, the three-day waiting period will be one of the strictest measures in the nation. This waiting period will particularly impact women in rural areas, as they will now have to make at least two trips to the clinic to receive an abortion, often 30 minutes or an hour from their homes.

The bill also requires that women receive an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion to ensure that the unborn child is within the 20-week limitation, a process many pro-choice activists consider emotional trauma for women receiving abortions.

Many worry about how this bill negatively affects women and their choices regarding their bodies. According to the Des Moines Register, multiple groups voiced opposition against this bill, such as Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Family Planning Council of Iowa, the League of Women Voters of Iowa, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The Grinnell League of Women Voters (GLWV) was one of these many groups in opposition to the bill. The local and state level LWVs do not take a stance on abortion, but they are advocates for women’s access to healthcare.

“At the State level, this is one of our stated priorities for the 2016 Legislative session,” wrote Terese Grant, Co-President at the Grinnell LWV, in an email to The S&B.

According to Grant, the priority for the State level GLWV is to “enact policies that guarantee access for all residents to comprehensive, uniform and affordable health services including a full range of reproductive services.”

At this moment, the GLWV does not have any steps planned in order to fight the bill, but there is the possibility for future action. “This restrictive abortion bill is something that the League may take a serious look at in the near future,” Grant wrote.

This bill comes at an unfortunate time, as the Iowa Senate recently passed a budget bill that blocks state funding to Planned Parenthoods and other clinics that provide abortions.

The passing of this abortion bill holds ominous questions for how women will be able to seek reproductive healthcare in a state that is quickly taking away their access.

Unfortunately, Iowa is not the first state to pass restrictive legislation such as this, 17 other states have passed 20-week abortion bans.

Despite the fact the Iowa Legislation is committed to making access to healthcare increasingly more difficult for women, organizations like the GLWV will not stop campaigning for women’s rights to their own bodies.

“I do know that the League will continue to fight for women’s health care rights, as this has always been a priority for the League at the local, state and national level,” Grant wrote.

Despite the multiple opponents to the bill, it was passed. Organizations like the LWV are now wondering what to do to fight this oppressive legislation.

Options are rather limited as this point, as it is expected Governor Branstad will sign the bill and put it into effect soon after. But women’s health groups and those committed to the right to bodily autonomy will not be silent to the injustices women are facing at the hands of Iowa’s legislators.

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