‘Personhood’ legislation would ban abortion, limit birth control options

Addie Olson

For years, varying beliefs about when a fertilized egg becomes a human  have sprung up across the political spectrum.

The Iowa GOP is attempting to set new standards regarding this controversial issue with a bill introduced Jan. 28 that would protect life beginning at conception. 

If the bill passes, it will limit birth control options and ban all forms of abortion. State Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, explained that exceptions would not be made for victims of rape or incest, or women whose lives would be at risk carrying a pregnancy to term.

“It would make all abortions illegal,” Wessel-Kroeschell said. “It would give no consideration to the life or the health of the mother.”

In addition, the bill would have the potential to eliminate several forms of contraception, including the birth control pill, which is one of the most common and easily accessible contraceptives among college women.

This would largely affect the lives and options of a vast number of students. According to a 2009 study by the National Institutes of Health, 80 percent of college females are sexually active and seeking not to become pregnant. 

The bill has not yet specifically spelled out the mandates that would be put on contraceptives, but according to Wessel-Kroeschell, the use of any birth control that has the potential of preventing a fertilized egg from embedding in the uterus could be banned. Many forms of contraception do this even though their primary purpose is only to prevent a woman from ovulating.

The ISU Students For Life organization was created to promote and uphold the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. While the group takes no official stance on the issue of birth control, it feels strongly about banning abortion. 

Rachel Peller, junior in women’s studies and co-president of the group, feels that it is really a matter of fairness and equality.

“I believe that a fetus, as a human, should be protected by the same laws that everyone else is protected by,” she said. “All humans should have equal rights.”

Peller emphasizes that all too often, women who end up with unwanted pregnancies will jump to abortion before considering the full implications of their decision.

“There is no evidence of a woman ever choosing to give birth, and then saying, ‘Oh, I wish I had had an abortion,’ but there are countless cases of women who have had abortions and then said, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that,'” she said.

Peller also agrees that although situations in which the mother is a victim of rape or incest are unfortunate, turning to abortion is not the answer.

“You would just be justifying one wrong with another wrong, and that’s not going to help anybody,” Peller said.

The bill, proposed by 28 of Iowa’s GOP legislators, will likely be subject to extensive speculation, and Democrats have already called for an immediate public hearing.

If the proposed law passes through the House, where Republicans hold a majority, it is unlikely it will make it through Iowa’s Democratic Senate.

Wessel-Kroeschell is a member of the Human Resources Committee where the bill was sent last week after passing through subcommittee. 

“Nobody likes the idea of abortion, but I think most of us realize that each woman and her family need to make these decisions on their own,” Wessel-Kroeschell said. “Each situation is unique; I don’t think I can decide for another person what she needs to do.”