July 23, 2014

Top GOP leader says some abortion restrictions under consideration

The top G.O.P. leader in the legislature says it’s likely Republicans will try to advance new restrictions on abortion in 2011. House Speaker-elect Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha says Republicans in the Iowa House are “pro-life” but abortion was not a major issue on the campaign trail.

“But subsequent to election day, we have this doctor moving in from Nebraska who has really elevated the whole discussion.  I mean, I have quite a few constituent contacts and quite a few of my members contacting me and saying, ‘This is something we need to look at,’ and I would guess that we do address that issue,” Paulsen says. “…There’s several different ideas being discussed.”

A Nebraska doctor plans to open an abortion clinic in Council Bluffs and another in Maryland because of the state of Nebraska’s new law banning late-term abortions. Dr. LeRoy Carhart has become the nation’s best-known late-term abortion provider after the 2009 murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller.  

House Speaker-elect Paulsen says Republicans in the Iowa House may try to address another concern in the pro-life community about doctors who prescribe the so-called abortion pill after consulting with the patient via video.

“That brings in a whole interesting discussion of how far telemedicine is allowed to be permitted at all,” Paulsen says. “I don’t know where that goes, exactly.”

Oklahoma has a law which requires abortion providers to take an ultrasound and show it to women seeking an abortion.  That law has been challenged through the courts.  Paulsen says Republicans will discuss whether to propose similar legislation for Iowa.

“That’s something that was talked about on the campaign trail,” Paulsen says. “It was something that was talked about during the gubernatorial debate.” 

Governor-elect Terry Branstad has said he would sign such a bill into law.