Senator Mark Costello

A bill to ban most abortions in Iowa after the 20th week of a pregnancy cleared a Senate Commtitee Thursday afternoon. Mark Costello, a Republican from Imogene, is the senator who was assigned to guide the bill through the legislative process.

“I do think that we can save lives with this,” Costello said, “and I think we’ve tried to make some accommodations to make it a little easier for everyone.”

Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, led the effort that adjusted the bill, so abortions after the 20th week could be performed if a catastrophic abnormality is discovered in the fetus.

“We did listen,” Chelgren said. “We tried to understand what the concerns were.”

Six Republicans and three Democrats on the Senate Human Resources Committee voted to make the bill eligible for debate in the full senate. Three Democrats voted against the bill. Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City said politicians are the last people who should “stick their nose” into these kind of “heartbreaking” health care decisions.

“It’s better that each family make their own decision rather than letting politicians interfere,” Bolkcom said during the committee meeting.

A separate “personhood” proposal that abortion opponents were vigorously lobbying for did not survive the legislature’s deadline for action today. Critics say that bill eventually could have outlawed most abortions in Iowa and might have led to a federal court case challenging the Roe w Wade decision that legalized abortion.