A subcommittee on life turned out to be relatively uneventful on Thursday afternoon. The subcommittee on Senate Study Bill 1170 started at noon and Governor Kim Reynolds was scheduled to speak at a pro-life rally in the Rotunda until 12:15 p.m.
Nobody spoke in opposition to the bill and only a couple lobbyists spoke in favor.
“It moves closer to the ideal of treating unborn babies as persons under the law,” said Tom Chapman with the Iowa Catholic Conference.
Chapman noted the bill stays away from the abortion question and enhances penalties.
Democrat Sen. Janet Petersen had a few questions relating to the bill. She said based on her reading of the bill it takes penalties backwards.
Line four of the bill, Petersen said, says a person who knew or reasonably should have known that a person was pregnant. Current law doesn’t state they have to know.
She speculated about a case where a drunk driver hits a pregnant woman. Under current law the driver didn’t have to know she was pregnant, but under this law the driver needed to know or should have known.
“To me, if the goal is to make the law stronger, I think this does the reverse,” Petersen said.
Republican Sen. Brad Zaun said that isn’t the intention of the bill.
“This is a bill that was authored through the Judiciary committee and I think you made a good point,” Zaun said.
Petersen moved on to ask about the medical community and how the law would apply to them. For instance, she said, what if a doctor sent someone home from the hospital and then the baby dies.
“It would’ve had to have caused it,” said Republican Sen. Jake Chapman.
The bill states the person’s actions would cause the death of or serious bodily injury to the pregnant person or would terminate or cause serious injury to the human pregnancy.
Petersen discussed other possibilities regarding ultrasounds and being transferred to a higher level care hospital.
She told her own story and asked a question about whether in her situation, where the umbilical cord had a knot and the doctor didn’t tell her, if she could have gone after the doctor under this law.
“As you are aware, a county attorney or a prosecuting attorney has the discretion to determine whether or not there was willful intention to do that,” Sen. Chapman said. “I don’t know whether in that case your doctor intentionally terminated your child’s life. I don’t know if that falls under that category.”
Zaun and Chapman signed the bill out of subcommittee, with the recommendation of an amendment.