Key Republicans skeptical of Senate’s late term abortion bill


May 18th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Key Republicans are skeptical of the bill Senate Democrats passed this week which specifically targets a Nebraska doctor’s plan to open a late-term abortion clinic in Council Bluffs. Governor Branstad favors an outright ban on all abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. “I would hope that, eventually, the Senate will understand that we need to do more than just deal with just the situation in Council Bluffs,” Branstad says.

Legislators in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Idaho and Indiana recently have passed new laws which ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is at risk because of her pregnancy. Branstad favors that route.

“It would be a tragedy for Iowa to become the late term abortion capitol of the Midwest and we should, I think, pattern what we do after what they did in Nebraska,” Branstad says. “It was effective there and that’s why I’m hopeful, in the end, the senate will see that.”

Nebraska was the first state to pass a late-term abortion ban and it took effect last October. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha, the top Republican in the Iowa House, says he’ll review the alternative proposal the Senate passed Tuesday. “But if all it does is formalize the procedure for doing late-term abortions, I am confident that House Republicans aren’t going to have any interest in that,” Paulsen says.

The bill Senate Democrats passed would set up a state permit process for anyone planning to open a “free standing” clinic where late-term abortions would be performed, with the stipulation that such a clinic be in “close proximity” to a hospital unit for premature babies. There is no such hospital unit in Council Bluffs, but there are neonatal units at hospitals in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines and Iowa City.

(O.Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)