The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate says he doesn’t want to “take away a woman’s control of her own destiny” when it comes to terminating a problem pregnancy.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal is from Council Bluffs, the city where a doctor who performs late-term abortions intends to open a clinic. The Iowa House has passed a bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. Gronstal and the other 25 members of the Iowa Senate took a different route, passing a bill that sets up a state permitting process for such facilities, with rules written in such a way that it would be difficult, if not impossible for Dr. Leroy Carhart to open his clinic in Council Bluffs.
I believe the surest way to keep Carhart out of Iowa is for the House to pass the bill the Senate passed,” Gronstal says.
The Senate proposal would require a “free-standing” late-term abortion clinic like Dr. Carhart hopes to open to be near a hospital that has a special unit for premature babies, and Council Bluffs doesn’t have one.
“I believe that’s the surest way to keep (Carhart) out of Iowa, without taking away a woman’s control over her own destiny,” Gronstal says.
Gronstal is critical of the House proposal which would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. It would allow abortions in cases when the woman’s life is at risk, but Gronstal says that exception may not have applied to the six women who got late-term abortions in Iowa in 2009.
“(The House bill) said that a woman had to be in imminent danger of death,” Gronstal says. “Basically, it says that unless the woman is hemorraging and about to die, you can’t do the abortion even if there’s no way the baby can’t survive outside the womb.”
If the Republican-led House and Democratically-led Senate don’t agree and pass a bill dealing with this issue, Gronstal isn’t willing to say that’s an open door to Carhart.
“I don’t know that it means that. I don’t know that Carhart is going to come to Council Bluffs,” Gronstal says. “We’ve got a bill that I believe is the surest, quickest way — after much discussion with a lot of people in the senate and in the attorney general’s office and a host of folks — after much discussion, we’ve got a bill that we believe much more effectively than the House bill will keep Carhart out of Iowa. The House ought to pass it.”
Gronstal made his comments today during taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press” which airs tonight at 7:30 and Sunday at 11:30 a.m.