DES MOINES, Iowa – State Rep. Jon Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs, introduced a bill in the Iowa House that would allow parent, court-appointed guardian, or conservator to file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of an unborn child.
Iowa law currently allows parents to sue over the injury of the death of a minor child, for wrongful birth or life, but the law is silent in the case of a child who is injured or dies in-utero due to the action of another.
The bill also madates due process and equal protection for an unborn baby before a court rules on the child’s viability.
HF 2352 states:
1. An action seeking damages for personal injury to a viable fetus must be brought by a parent, court-appointed guardian, or conservator, as the real party in interest. Such claims may be brought as an independent action or joined with a parental claim for loss of consortium.
2. A court shall not adjudicate the issue of viability of a fetus under this section without affording the fetus, through the real party in interest, due process and equal protection of the law.
This bill only addresses civil lawsuits. Last year, the Iowa Senate passed a bill that increased the criminal penalties for the nonconsensual death or serious injury of an unborn person. The bill stalled in the Iowa House last year, but could still be see action in the Iowa House this session.
Jacobsen told Caffeinated Thoughts that his bill “codifies statutorily what has always been held as common law for centuries.”
“There exist causes of action for intentional assault/battery or reckless/negligent tortious conduct causing death to an in-utero baby,” he said. “(There) must be a due process hearing to determine if miscarriage was natural/spontaneous vs. criminal/tortious behavior.”
He said the loss of the parents and siblings’ right of companionship with the unborn child are damages and the bill also clears up who has the right to file a lawsuit.
Currently, no organization has registered opposition to the bill. The FAMiLY Leader has registered support.
The bill has been assigned to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee.