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New Iowa bill may be the most effective method ever to reduce abortions

A pregnant woman is examined as she waits to give birth at a public hospital in Rio de Janeiro. (AP/Felipe Dana, File)

In the state of Iowa, lawmakers are discussing an abortion-related bill that would be the first of its kind in the entire country if passed.

The bill would allow a woman to sue an abortion provider if at any point in her life she experiences emotional distress due to having the abortion. The bill provides that there will be no statute of limitations for this private cause of action. GOP State Senator Mark Chelgren, who introduced the proposal, said he wanted to make sure women were protected.

"I want to give a lifetime warranty so to me that was my thinking, which is hey, we need to make sure we are protecting them for life," he said. "What we're asking for is that individuals, doctors and clinics that make money off of women by giving them abortions are simply held accountable."

"That's all this does. It protects women from people who would normally be trying to sell them something in a time when they are under the most stress that is kind of imaginable," Chelgren added.

The bill passed through one three-member panel and heads to its second committee review. Sen. Chelgren did not immediately return a request from TheBlaze on when the bill is expected to be examined by the next committee. And although it hasn't yet reached the floor, it already faces harsh criticism from opponents.

Some groups say it would be overturned by the Supreme Court and only lead to unnecessary expenses for the state, similar to a Texas law restricting access to abortion clinics without ambulatory surgical facilities that was thrown out by the court last year. Spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa Daniel Zeno said in a statement that the proposal is an attempt to put more burdens on women seeking an abortion. However, the law is at least conceptually distinct from the Texas regulations that were struck down by the Supreme Court because it does not place any requirements on abortion clinics before the fact of the abortion.

However, critics contend the bill amounts to the same thing. "The bill's intent is clear: To demonize abortion providers, set up an adversarial relationship between provider and patient, shame women and block access to reproductive health care," Zeno stated.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Des Moines is also rallying hard against the bill, insisting it would contradict current federal law in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion on a federal level. The organization also says this law would not provide any further protection to women since current Iowa law already allows any patient to sue for emotional distress following a medical procedure.

But Chelgren said of the Roe v. Wade decision: "It also said it's incumbent on the state to make sure the woman's mental and physical well-being and health are protected."

And while the Heartland Planned Parenthood argued that 95 percent of women who have an abortion do not regret it, Chelgren said five percent is too high. "In order for someone to have merit in a malpractice case, if 1 percent of the time there's a problem, than that's enough for fixing the problem," he said.

The bill joins another abortion-related bill already on the table in 2017: a plan proposed by the governor aimed at cutting Planned Parenthood state funding.


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