Congressman Jim Nussle, a Republican candidate for governor, says Iowa needs a law that would require parental consent before an abortion could be performed on young women under the age of 18.
Nussle has said he’s living proof of the need for pregnant girls to talk with a parent. His own mother became pregnant as a teenager and decided to carry her child — him — to term.
Nussle says if elected governor, he’d sign a law that would require parental consent for teens who seek an abortion. “It’s sadly ironic that in Iowa if you have a minor child then you have to give parental consent for them to get an aspirin at school or a tattoo or get their ears pierced, but unlike 21 other states Iowa does not have a consent law that the parents have to approve of the child getting an abortion,” Nussle says.
Nussle says it’s only “reasonable” for parents to be involved when their teenagers are making such a “challenging” decision. “It’s not something that we hope for, but we know that if history is our guide, this does happen to a lot of young women,” Nussle says. “As we believe we need to have families strengthened, we need to be able to strengthen their ability to work their kids in making their very difficult decision.”
Governor Tom Vilsack helped draft Iowa’s existing parental “notification” law which was enacted in 1996 when he was a state Senator. Vilsack calls the current state notification law an “appropriate and reasonable middle ground.” Vilsack says requiring a parent to sign off before an abortion can be performed is a step too far.
“Parental consent creates a much more difficult situation, particularly in circumstances where children may be intimidated, harassed, where they may in fact be the victims of sexual abuse having to seek the consent of the parent who’s actually responsible for the abuse,” Vilsack says.
Nussle, though, says he’d allow teens in that situation to go to a judge to bypass the requirement for getting that parent’s permission for an abortion. Nussle says the state’s current “notification” law isn’t enough. Nussle says just notifying a parent about a teenager’s decision to get an abortion doesn’t give the parents the ability to “talk to (or) pray with their children” before the decision has been made. Nussle’s primary opponent,
Republican Bob Vander Plaats also supports a parental consent law. None of the Democrats running for governor have expressed support. Michael Blouin, the only Democratic candidate who has opposed abortion, says he will not “speculate” on what abortion restrictions he might sign into law if he’s elected governor.