Bill could lead to more ultrasounds, fewer abortions


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has a bill before him that would require offering a woman the opportunity to view an ultrasound image of her fetus before having an abortion.

Anne Marie Amacher
The Iowa Legislature approved a requirement that women are required to be offered to view an ultrasound of their unborn fetus before an abortion. The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Terry Branstad.

Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC), said he is pleased with the bill, part of Senate File 505 of the Health and Human Services budget. The Iowa House and Senate approved the budget June 3. Gov. Branstad has 30 days to approve or veto it.

“The bill spends about $1.8 billion for many important human services programs including Medicaid,” Chapman said. He noted that the ICC does not take positions for or against budget bills but works on certain issues of interest in the bills.


The initial House version of SF 505 included an amendment that would eliminate government family planning funds to abortion providers. “In the final compromise, this provision was eliminated,” Chapman said. “However, as a compromise, the chambers agreed to require that before an abortion is performed the physician will certify that the woman has been given the opportunity to view an ultrasound image of the fetus as part of the standard of care.

“The Iowa Catholic Conference has been working in favor of this provision or similar ones for many years. I am very pleased by the legislature’s action and look at it as part of a truly-informed consent process for women. I think our legislative network’s messages to legislators made a difference. We are also very grateful for the way that leaders of both parties worked together on this bill.”

Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, said each woman will have the opportunity to view her unborn child’s image on ultrasound and receive information regarding options “relative to a pregnancy, including continuing the pregnancy to term and retaining parental rights following childbirth, continuing the pregnancy to term and placing the child for adoption, and terminating the pregnancy.”

The language is similar to the ultrasound bill that passed out of the House a few months ago.

“Statistics continue to prove that abortion-vulnerable women (and men), when given the opportunity to view (their unborn child’s) ultrasound image, choose life, reducing abortions by 70 to 90 percent.”

Vicki Tyler, executive director of the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf said, “We are very excited that the Iowa State Legislature passed a law that will allow women to be shown their baby through ultrasound before making one of the biggest decisions in their lives. The truth about this baby and his/her development will be clearly seen. Every baby is a precious gift from God and we pray that many will choose life for their baby after seeing him/her on the ultrasound. Praise God!”

Chapman noted other successes in SF 505. The legislature approved $100,000 in funding for a pilot program for refugee services. “It is less than hoped for, but still a positive step forward that can be improved upon next year.” The bill also includes an increase in eligibility for child care assistance. An allocation for tax preparation help for the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income people was retained. These are measures the ICC supported.

The governor can line-item veto parts of the SF 505, Chapman noted.

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