Ashley Hinson

Legislators have tabled a bill that would have required minors to have parental permission to pierce anything but their ears. Representative Ashley Hinson, a Republican from Marion, says the bill isn’t specific enough in describing what actually would be covered as a forbidden-for-teens piercing.

“One of our fellow representatives brought up gauging as covered in this because it involves your earlobe,” Hinson says.

Gauging is the process of stretching the earlobe. It widens the hole in a pierced ear.

Hinson says other states regulate businesses that pierce other parts of the body, but it’s unclear whether this bill is needed in Iowa.

“A lot of the regulation has surrounded what are tattoo artists held to for their standards and I think a lot of people are good practitioners and they are double-checking before they…do something like that, making sure that it’s the right decision and that maybe the parents are involved,” Hinson says.

But Hinson says legislators will continue to investigate the issue, since that may not be standard practice for all body-piercing businesses. It is illegal for tattoo shops in Iowa to give tattoos to minors. Supporters of the bill say body piercing needs to be policed, like tattoo parlors, for health and safety. Critics say the bill infringes on freedom of expression.

“These are decisions that can impact your body for a long time and I also respect the idea that you own your body,” Hinson says, “so I think we need to be mindful of all those concerns going forward and that’s why we decided to just indefinitely postpone the bill.”

Hinson says the bill, as currently written, doesn’t make it clear whether the minor or the person who did the body piercing would be fined if a parent hadn’t given permission for piercing.