A dispute over abortion policy has become a major stumbling block as the Iowa legislature tries to adjourn this week.
Iowans who qualify for government-paid Medicaid can obtain a taxpayer-funded abortion at the University of Iowa Hospitals if they’re the victim of rape or incest, if the fetus is profoundly deformed, or if the mother’s health is endangered by the pregnancy. Republicans in the Iowa House want new restrictions that would require rape and incest victims to see an ultrasound and be told about adoption options before an abortion could be performed.
“In these traumatic situations it has to be a horrible decision to make, but in the interest of health — not only mentally but physically of a woman in one of these situations — we want to make sure a decision is not made in haste, that the mother understands all options available to her,” Representative Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, said this evening during a meeting at the statehouse.
Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, called the proposal offensive.
“You are talking about a woman who has suffered one of the most cruel crimes that can possibly happen and now you’ re trying to tell her what she needs to know to make her decision as if she is ignorant,” she said.
Windschitl said there are two lives to consider in these cases.
“I respect that the mother may not have wanted this to happen,” he said. “But at the same time, the child didn’t ask to be conceived and we have to respect that. We have to put both lives on the same level because I do believe life is a sacred gift from God.”
Wessel-Kroeschel argued that rape and incest victims — regardless of their income — should be able to make this decision on their own, without government intrusion.
“We can’t continue to revictimize these women,” Wessel-Kroeschel said.
Windschitl said giving women information about adoption and a chance to see an ultrasound doesn’t cause “undue harm.
“Even if it comes through traumatic, unfortunate, horrible circumstances, there is still a life in that womb,” Windschitl said. “And we have to respect both those lives equally, in my opinion.”
Wessel-Kroeschell offered this counter argument.
“I think anyone who believes that a woman makes a decision under any circumstances rashly to terminate a pregnancy is not giving credit to the intelligence and thought process that a woman goes through when she’s in these kinds of situations,” Wessel-Kroeschell said.
Democrats have promised to make a counter-proposal on the abortion issue late Wednesday morning. This abortion-related issue is included in a budget bill that outlines state spending for the Departments of Public Health and Human Services.
Legislators are trying to strike compromises on a host of spending decisions in order to have a state budget plan in place before the new state fiscal year begins Friday.