A state committee has approved a bill that requires priests and pastors in Iowa to report child abuse, moving the bill a step closer to becoming law. The measure’s been added to a larger bill on abuse-reporting and Committee chair Ken Veenstra says he decided to keep it there so the full senate can debate it.Veenstra says lawmakers are under public expectation to address recent highly-publicized cases of child molestation by clergy, and that’s why many people feel it’s necessary to focus legislation to have an impact in that kind of case. The republican from Orange City says he’d been concerned about the bill’s effect on the confidentiality between clergy and parishioners, but says he’s confident enough protections have been written into the bill concerning confessions. He says parishioners can still turn to their pastors for counsel and be confident what they say will be held in confidence. Another section of the bill raises the age requirement of children whose abuse must be reported, and opponents like Wally Horn of Cedar Rapids worry it could have un-intended consequences for teens having consensual sex.Horn says a high-school senior could be put on a sexual-predator list, something he doesn’t want to happen. Another opponent suggested sexually-active teenage girls might forgo asking for birth control, for fear of getting their partner in trouble. The bill passed in committee, however, by a vote of eleven to two.
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