Iowa 20 Week Abortion Ban Gets Even More Heated

A ban on abortion after 20 weeks, primarily aimed at keeping Dr. Leroy Carhart out of Iowa, has become a firestorm for one Council Bluffs lawmaker.

See also Ryan Swanek’s report from a Council Bluffs rally against the legislation.

An Iowa abortion ban aimed primarily at stopping Dr. Leroy Carhart from moving into Council Bluff to provide later term abortions has been stalled after passing through the House.  House File 657, a bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks except in the case of endangering the life of the mother, received House support but had yet to be put onto the floor for debate in the Senate.

Senate Majority leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, initially supported the bill on behalf of his constituency, whom he said did not want to see a clinic in their city that would provide later abortions (Council Bluffs is directly next to Nebraska, where the state’s own 20 week abortion ban prohibited Carhart from performing later abortions, primarily in the cases of fetal abnormalities or other health concerns).But his concern over the constitutionality of the bill, as well as the idea of legislators making medical decisions rather than doctors, has lead him to hesitate on bringing the bill to the floor for debate.

Now, Gronstral has been pressured by a phone campaign demanding he let the senate debate the bill and put it up for a vote.  And now, they have rallied to put even more pressure on the leader.  Via the Omaha World Herald:

The rally at Bayliss Park was designed to pressure State Sen. Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, to schedule a vote on the bill. Gronstal is the Senate majority leader.

Remarks by various speakers were punctuated by the crowd’s response, “Let the Senate vote.”

“The bill is placed on the calendar, but that doesn’t mean we’ll debate it,” said State Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak. “Sen. Gronstal is the one person to determine that.”

Gronstal, who supports abortion rights, has declined to say whether there will be a vote in the final days of the legislative session.

He told lawmakers last week, the Des Moines Register reported, that he has supported policies to make abortion “less necessary.”

“I also know that second trimester abortions are almost always a decision by a woman that desperately wants to be pregnant but something has gone tragically wrong with her pregnancy,” Gronstal said.

“Making a decision about what to do at that point is a gut-wrenching decision that should be made by a woman, her family and her doctor.”

Gronstal had previously agreed that if the bill made it out of committee, he would allow it onto the floor for debate. Later, two Democrats joined with the senate Republicans to move it on.