Photo credit: Scott Crosby (CC-By-SA 3.0)
Photo credit: Scott Crosby (CC-By-SA 3.0)

An ultrasound bill filed in the Iowa House would help those seeking a decision make a better informed choice pro-life advocates state.  Ultrasounds have also been an effective tool in helping mothers choose life for their unborn children.

The bill,¬†HF 58, is sponsored by State Representative Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls). ¬†It’s purpose is to require a physician to certify a woman’s medical record prior to having an abortion to ensure a woman has had ultrasound imaging taken of the unborn child, and was given the opportunity to view the ultrasound, hear a description of the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of the child.

“I had the opportunity to sit in on the ultrasound of my eighth grandchild.¬† It was amazing!¬† I asked the technician if anyone who was seeking an abortion and had seen an ultrasound had changed their mind,” Rogers told Caffeinated Thoughts in an email. ¬†“She said most definitely, at least half of the people who come in the clinic wanting an abortion who see an ultrasound change their mind and decide to have the baby.¬† This legislation does not infringe on anyone’s rights, is giving more information to the patients, and will save lives.”

Brenda Knollenberg the director of Agape Pregnancy Center in Des Moines said that ultrasounds provide great information for parents-to-be. ¬†“Ultrasounds provide valuable information for someone making a pregnancy decision.¬† For instance – is there is fetal cardiac activity when there should be? Is this is an intrauterine pregnancy? What is the gestational age?¬† All of these factors can be important for a young woman in determining what her decision might be,” Knollenberg told Caffeinated Thoughts.

The bill filed last week has been referred to the House Human Resources Committee.  It has been co-sponsored by State Representatives Dawn Pettengill (R-Mount Auburn), Joel Fry (R-Osceola), John Wills (R-Spirit Lake), Norlin Mommsen (R-DeWitt), Ralph Watts (R-Adel), Dean Fisher (R-Garwin), Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley), Tedd Gassman (R-Scarville), Sandy Salmon (R-Denver), Terry Baxter (R-Garner), Stan Gustafson (R-Cumming), Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights), and Steve Holt (R-Denison).

Twenty-five states have some form of ultrasound law enacted.  Ten states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia) have enacted an ultrasound law that similar to HF 58.

Rachel Owen, executive director of Informed Choices of Iowa, said that an ultrasound is an invaluable tool for her ministry.  Informed Choices which operates clinics in Ames, Iowa City and Ft. Dodge also operates a mobile clinic which Owen says will be positioned near college campuses and abortion clinics.   All of their clinics offer free ultrasounds.

“Our counseling alone is pretty effective with women. ¬†Right now 60 percent of abortion-minded women who walk into our clinics choose life after talking with our counselors,” Owen told Caffeinated Thoughts. ¬†“When offered the opportunity to see an ultrasound that percentage goes up to 91 percent.”

Owen noted it makes an even greater impact on abortion-minded fathers. ¬†“If a man is pressuring his girlfriend to abort when he sees the ultrasound it is 99 percent effective because men typically are visual,” Owen shared.

Informed Choices then provides support for those mothers and fathers who choose life. ¬†Owen did express concern about whether or not there will be guidelines for how an ultrasound is described. ¬†“I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories coming out of abortion clinics with how they describe ultrasounds when they are done,” Owen added. ¬†Owen also expressed concerns about whether the cost will be prohibitive for women. Crisis pregnancy centers who provide ultrasounds usually do so for free. ¬†That may not be the case elsewhere.

American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Family Planning Council of Iowa, the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Violence, and League of Women Voters of Iowa have registered against the bill.  Iowa Right to Life, Iowa Catholic Conference and Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition have registered their support for the bill.

There are several pieces of pro-life legislation offered in the Iowa Senate as well.

SF 11 sponsored by State Senator David Johnson (R-Ocheyedan) addresses telemed abortions that are in legal limbo before the Iowa Supreme Court.  The bill would require any medical abortions to be done by a license physician after the physician has seen the women in person.  Planned Parenthood of the Heartland started remote clinics where women were given drugs by a doctor via webcam that would cause a miscarriage.  The Iowa Board of Medicine banned the practice in 2013, but courts have placed a stay on that decision.

Johnson also filed SF 12 which would require a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion could be given. ¬†It also requires physicians who will induce the abortion or another qualified professional to give “medically accurate information” about a woman’s abortion decision including the risks involved and alternatives available.

State Senator Bill Anderson (R-Pierson) filed SF 44 that would ban gender-selective abortions and give penalties to those who coerce mothers to seek abortion due to the gender of the child.

State Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) filed SF 55¬† would prohibit taxpayer funds to be used to pay for abortion coverage in the state’s health care insurance exchange. ¬†Zaun also filed SF 91 which would ban abortions after 20 weeks. ¬†That will was co-sponsored by State Senators Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton), Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny), Jake Chapman (R-Adel) and Mark Chelgren (R-Ottumwa).

Yesterday Democrats in the Iowa Senate Rules Committee made it unlikely any pro-life legislation would be debated on the Senate floor.  A proposed amendment to the Senate rules to allow bills that are supported by a constitutional majority to be brought out of committee was rejected on a party-line vote.

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