Salo: New Iowa abortion law is flawed


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Gov. Terry Branstad signed a new abortion bill that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, enforces stricter guidelines on who can receive abortions as well as a three day waiting period.

Megan Salo

Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill on May 5, that puts more guidelines on abortions in Iowa. 

The bill restricts women whose pregnancy has progressed longer than 20 weeks from receiving an abortion. Abortions will also only be given to women if a doctor determines her life or health is in danger. If their doctor allows the abortion, the woman must wait three days before she can have the procedure. 

The signing of the bill was a major win for Branstad and the Republican lawmakers, all who voted for the bill to be passed, while all Democrats besides two voted against it. 

“This year was really a banner year for the pro-life movement. History was made this session,” Branstad said to the Associated Press. 

But making history isn’t always positive. 

The new law does not allow for women to abort their pregnancies unless their lives are in danger. This means that any pregnancy that is a result from rape or incest must be carried to term. 

So, many women will be reminded of their horrible history whenever they look at their son or daughter because the government forced them to. Some women may even neglect their children because of this.

I can hear you now, “well, they can always give it up for adoption.”

This makes sense in theory, but just imagine this scenario: you’re a teenage girl who was raped by a stranger and is now pregnant. Imagine having to explain this to your friends, family, community, anyone who asks who the father is. Imagine going through an entire pregnancy without emotional or financial support from the father because you don’t know who they are. Imagine going through an unwanted pregnancy for nine months, having the child and then just giving it away.

This law also forces women to continue their pregnancy even if the baby is unhealthy. Try to imagine that. You’re told that the baby that you’ve been trying to conceive probably won’t survive after it is born. Not only do you have to go through the pain of losing a child, but you also have to go through the pain of carrying that baby for nine months, even though you know that those nine months are probably all it will have. 

“[Choosing to end a pregnancy] is a really important decision for the mother and those around her to make,” said Dr. Ann Oberhauser, the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Iowa State University. “If a woman is considering abortion, she usually has a good reason. We need to look at the scenario – who is going to be impacted by this? And how will they be impacted?”

Oberhauser also said that she believes the three day ban was designed as an attempt to create a roadblock for women who are considering an abortion. 

“This could be a physical problem, as they would have to go to the clinic twice, and they may not have access to transportation to do this,” Oberhauser said. “And it’s also an emotional roller coaster for them to go through as well.”

I completely agree with her observation. What other use could the three day waiting period serve besides extending this traumatic experience for the families involved?

Suzanna de Baca, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a press conference Thursday that four of Iowa’s Planned Parenthood facilities, those in Burlington, Keokuk, Quad Cities and Sioux City, are scheduled to close within the next few months.

“Let me be very clear, the only reason… these closings are happening… is the budget Gov. Branstad signed into law last week that defunded Planned Parenthood of the Heartland,” de Baca said.

By reading this article, it may sound like I support abortions – this is not necessarily true. 

I don’t think abortions that come from an “oops” situation are morally right, but in the situations described above, they might be necessary. What I don’t support is the government telling women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies. 

“You are not doctors. We are politicians messing in an area in which we have no business to be involved in,” Sen. Janet Petersen said during the discussion. “You are taking away a woman’s right to decide what is best for her body in the most awful — awful — situation that she will ever face in her life.”

In my opinion, having an abortion is up to the woman and she will have to live with her decision for the rest of her life. The government should stay out of it and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will continue to fight against them.

“Make no mistake,” de Baca said. “We will hold lawmakers accountable.”