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McKinley: Bill is about more than one abortion provider locating in Council Bluffs
Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) is lashing out against a Senate Democrats plan to offer a new version of a controversial late-term abortion bill, saying the debate isn’t about a single abortion provider.
The existing bill, House File 657, was forcibly removed from a committee where it had stalled by a petition of all Senate Republicans and two Senate Democrats — 26 of the 50 members of the Iowa chamber. Reproductive rights advocates have warned that the bill, which includes language that “life begins at fertilization,” could outlaw contraception as well as all abortions.Although the bill has been promoted as a piece of legislation necessary to prevent a Nebraska doctor, LeRoy Carhart, from opening a family planning clinic in Council Bluffs that would offer late-term abortion services, McKinley is now stressing such an outcome is not enough.
“This debate is not just about keeping one abortionist out of Council Bluffs — it is about protecting the innocent lives of unborn Iowans in every community,” McKinley said in a prepared statement.
“We believe it is wrong for Senator [Mike] Gronstal to continue to obstruct a vote and stand in the way of meaningful Senate debate on this issue and Senate Republicans will continue to demand an up or down vote on a late-term abortion ban this session. We are confident that if Senator Gronstal opts to listen to the citizens of his district and allows a vote on a late-term abortion ban, it will pass the Senate with strong bipartisan support.”
Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs), who was targeted with Iowa GOP robocalls last week in relation to the pending abortion legislation, has directed all questions regarding the bill to Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City). Bolkcom will floor manage the legislation and has indicated that he is not interested in producing a new draft of the legislation that could face the same constitutional challenges as the bill passed by House Republicans.
Late-term abortions comprise a tiny fraction of all abortion in the U.S. as well as in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Public Health reported six abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in 2009. Figures for 2010 are not yet available.
A primary reason for late-term abortion is anencephaly, a congenital birth defect that results in an absence of brain and skull. While some anencephalic pregnancies result in a live birth, such children are typically born with only a brain stem that allows for only unconscious bodily functions, such a breathing and heart beat. The life expectancy of such infants is only a few hours or days; there is no known treatment for a child with anencephaly.
“Not every pregnancy ends the way a family hopes it will,” Bolkcom said earlier today. “A woman with a wanted pregnancy that goes terribly wrong must face an awful decision that none of us ever want to face. A Nebraska-style total ban will only make a difficult situation worse, and that’s no place for politicians to meddle.”