DES MOINES — The Iowa Democratic Party is accusing Republicans in the House of abandoning their pledge to focus on jobs and the economy because a GOP lawmaker has introduced a bill designed to ban abortion.
The House GOP caucus is “returning to a divisive social agenda” that marked the 2011 legislative session, according to the Democratic response to Wednesday’s introduction of a bill that would ban abortion — even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of a mother.
“House Republicans and their colleagues in the Senate would rather put the lives of women in danger than have a real discussion about how we create jobs and move Iowa forward,” Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said.
However, Rep. Kim Pearson, R-Pleasant Hill, the lone sponsor of House File 2298, described it as a “lifesaving bill” that protects mothers and the unborn.
Her bill, which has been assigned to the House Human Resources Committee, would eliminate all mentions in Iowa law to allowing abortions, such as references to parental notification when pregnant teens seek abortions and in regard to health insurance coverage.
The bill would amend the code to make feticide — performing or causing an abortion — a Class A felony at any time during a pregnancy, not only after the second trimester. A Class A felony is punishable by up to 10 years and fine of no more than $10,000.
“This is an absolute protection of life,” Pearson said.
Her bill goes further than one the House approved in 2011 to ban nearly all abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. The Senate did not take up that bill.
Pearson said her concern goes beyond ending abortion to protecting women from the effects of abortion. That, she said, includes the likelihood of depression, mental illness, suicide and, according to some, breast cancer.
Pearson’s bill is evidence Republicans have reneged on a comment by House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, to focus on strengthening Iowa’s economy, Dvorsky said. Paulsen said before the session began he was “not interested in squandering Iowans’ time” with divisive social issues.
Paulsen rejected the idea that he or his caucus have changed directions.
“The House Republican caucus is a pro-life caucus,” Paulsen said. “To the extent that we can save lives of the unborn, we are always in favor of that.”
House Republicans “are not scared to debate tough issues that are important to Iowans,” he added.
He’s not sure what the prospects are for the bill, but “if the committee brings it to us, we will take a look.”