DES MOINES — Using fetal tissue from abortions for research or for sale would be prohibited in Iowa under a bill that advanced Tuesday in the Iowa House.
The bill also creates a process for the handling of fetal remains that result of any early-ending pregnancy.
Critics labeled the legislation an assault on women’s rights and an anti-abortion crusade in disguise.
Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, said she submitted the bill in response to videos that surfaced last summer showing a women’s health care provider discussing transfer fees of fetal tissue for research.
Two of the individuals who recorded the secretly filmed videos have been indicted by a Texas grand jury on felony charges of tampering with a governmental record.
“A number of us found this to be heart-rending, horrifying and unconscionable,” Salmon said Tuesday at a subcommittee hearing on the bill. “This bill was brought forward to put a state law in place outlawing such barbaric practices. …
“I brought this bill forward because I believe deceased, unborn infants should have the same respect as other human beings.”
Multiple Iowa pastors spoke in favor of the legislation, saying it shows respect for the unborn fetus.
A representative for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, speaking at Tuesday’s hearing, called the bill “by far one of the most extreme forms of anti-abortion legislation” the group has seen in the Iowa Legislature and “an unprecedented and extreme restriction” that is the work of “anti-abortion activists.”
“They are using scare tactics and false information to intimidate people into passing more restrictive laws,” said Erin Davison-Rippey of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, suggested the bill is unnecessary because federal law prohibits the sale for profit of fetal tissue.
Representatives of funeral homes and medical clinics said they are neutral on the bill but expressed “serious concerns” that the legislation would create significant burdens for them and confusion.
“I see overall what you’re attempting to do, and I just want to make sure you understand that as you move on this, it will have an impact, and it will put us in some extremely awkward positions,” said Mike Triplett of the Iowa Funeral Directors Association.