The Iowa legislature has passed a bill responding to the case of a Storm Lake man accused of forcing his wife to take medication to end two pregnancies.
Tony Wangmeng Lee was convicted of assault and tampering with a witness, but in 2017 the Iowa Court of Appeals dismissed his conviction for terminating a pregnancy without consent. Lee’s wife told police her husband had forced her to take pills on five different occasions, ending two pregnancies.
Representative Sandy Salmon of Janesville described the case during House debate. “The court ruled that since it could not be proven she was pregnant at the time, therefore the crime of non-consensual abortion was not committed,” Salmon said. “This bill is designed to close that loophole.”
The House unanimously endorsed the bill two months ago. It cleared the Senate this week on a 47-0 vote. Senator Jeff Taylor of Sioux Center, the only Senator to speak during debate of the bill, didn’t mention Lee’s case.
“In addition to public safety in general, I think this specifically is a bill that will protect pregnant women and babies,” Taylor said, “and I think that is something that is very important.”
Lee was arrested in October of 2014, shortly after his wife filed for divorce and told police her estranged husband was threatening her and previously forced her to end two pregnancies. Court records show Lee went to Laos in 2010 to marry the woman and she could not read, write or speak English when she arrived in the U.S. in 2011.
According to the Iowa Department of Corrections, Lee served two years in prison and was released in 2017, several months after the Court of Appeals ruling that reversed his felony conviction for non-consensual termination of a pregnancy.