Iowa legislature votes to ban abortions after 20 weeks

Iowa legislature votes to ban abortions after 20 weeks
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The Iowa state House late Wednesday gave final approval to a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, becoming the latest Republican-controlled state to move toward new limits on abortion access.

Current law in Iowa prohibits abortions after the end of the second trimester. The new measure would make Iowa the 18th state to ban abortions after 20 weeks and the third state to set the new limit this year, along with Ohio and Kentucky.

The bill also requires women to undergo a three-day waiting period before obtaining an abortion. And the House voted to include a provision that would require women to submit to an ultrasound before an abortion takes place.

Like most states with 20-week abortion bans, a woman would still be able to access a pregnancy-ending procedure if her life or health were in danger. The measure does not allow a woman to end a pregnancy if the fetus shows signs of genetic problems, an omission state Democrats highlighted in their opposition.

The state House passed the measure largely along party lines; one Republican voted with every Democrat to oppose the measure. Their vote comes almost a month after Iowa's Senate voted to adopt the measure. The Senate must reconsider some of the new amendments before the bill is sent to Gov. Terry Branstad (R).

Branstad is likely to sign the final measure as one of his last acts before he leaves to become President Trump’s ambassador to China.

Those who oppose abortion rights said the measure would help reduce the number of procedures that take place in Iowa.

"We will celebrate any baby's life saved, and this 20-week ban is a good baby step toward that end, but it's not enough," said Bob Vander Plaats, the conservative activist who runs the Family Leader organization.

Several Iowa-based abortion rights groups did not respond to requests for comment.

Iowa's state government is under total Republican control after the GOP recaptured the state Senate in November’s elections. In the months after winning control, state Republicans have pursued an ambitious agenda, reforming workers’ compensation rules and collective bargaining laws, limiting abortion rights and the rights of cities to raise the minimum wage above the statewide level. The legislature voted earlier this year to expand gun rights as well.

Republican lawmakers are also working on a proposal from Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) to implement a new voter identification law. State Republicans hope they can pass school choice measures before the session is out, too.