In 2013, the Iowa State Board of Medicine, acting on a petition filed by local physicians, passed a rule requiring that a physician examine a woman before administering abortion-inducing drugs and that the physician to be present when the drugs are actually dispensed. This much-need action puts an end to a practice – first introduced by Planned Parenthood – of promoting “telemed abortions,” a dangerous and cost-cutting procedure where abortion-inducing drugs are administered using video teleconferencing rather than in-person physician consultations.
- In 2002, Iowa issued an “Information, Not Criminalization” directive. The directive purportedly makes information on family planning, abortion, adoption, and other reproductive health information available to women at their request. However, the information is not mandated, and there are no penalties for failure to supply the information or to otherwise provide access to the information.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on an unmarried or never married minor under the age of 18 until at least 48 hours after written notice has been provided to a parent or grandparent, unless the minor is the victim of rape, incest, or child abuse; there is a medical emergency; or a court order is issued.
- Iowa taxpayers are required to pay for abortions for women eligible for state medical assistance if the continued pregnancy endangers the woman’s life; the unborn child is physically deformed, mentally deficient, or afflicted with a congenital condition; or the pregnancy is the result of reported rape or incest.
- The state requires abortion providers to meet certain informed consent requirements before performing abortions for which they plan to seek reimbursement from the state.
- Only physicians licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the State of Iowa or osteopathic physicians and surgeons may perform abortions.
- Iowa has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions
- The Iowa State Board of Medicine requires that a physician physically examine a woman and document (in her medical record) the age and location of the pregnancy prior to administering abortion-inducing drugs. The rule also requires the physician to be present when the drugs are dispensed. The rule has been challenged by Planned Parenthood.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Iowa does not protect unborn children from criminal violence.
- Iowa law provides that an attack on a pregnant woman that results in a stillbirth or miscarriage is a criminal assault. It also requires an investigation into a newborn’s death when 1) the death is believed to have occurred during or after delivery and when the delivery was only attended by the mother; or 2) the medical examiner otherwise believes investigation is warranted.
- The state allows wrongful death (civil) actions only when an unborn child is born alive following a negligent or criminal act and dies thereafter.
- Iowa has created a specific affirmative duty of physicians to provide medical care and treatment to infants born alive after viability.
- The state defines substance abuse during pregnancy as “child abuse” under its civil child welfare statutes. Iowa also requires healthcare professionals to report suspected prenatal drug exposure and to test newborns for drug exposure when there is suspicion of prenatal drug use or abuse.
- Iowa has authorized stillbirth certificates
- Under the “Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative,” Iowa allows cloning-for-biomedical-research and destructive embryo research, while prohibiting cloning-to-produce-children, making it a “clone-and-kill” state.
- The state does not prohibit fetal experimentation or promote ethical forms of research.
- Iowa does not regulate egg harvesting or assisted reproductive technologies.
End of Life Laws:
- Assisting a suicide constitutes a felony in Iowa.
- Iowa maintains a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Paradigm Program.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Laws:
Participation in Abortion:
- An individual who objects on religious or moral grounds is not required to participate in an abortion unless that abortion constitutes “emergency medical treatment” of a serious physical condition necessary to save the woman’s life.
- A private or religiously afﬁliated hospital is not required to perform or permit abortions that are not necessary to save the woman’s life.
- Health insurance plans that provide prescription coverage must also provide coverage for contraception. No conscience exemption is provided for religious employers.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Iowa currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of medical research, which violate a provider’s moral or religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- The Iowa State Board of Medicine adopted a rule requiring a physician to physically examine a woman and document in her medical record the age and location of her pregnancy prior to administering abortion-inducing drugs. The rule also requires the physician to be present when the drugs are dispensed.
- Iowa enacted a measure requiring abortion providers to meet certain informed consent requirements before performing abortions for which they plan to seek reimbursement from the state. It also considered legislation prohibiting abortion at 5-months development (i.e., 20 weeks) and prohibiting sex-selective abortions.
Recommendations for Iowa:
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Women’s Health Defense Act (5-month abortion limitation)
- Women’s Right to Know Act with reflection period
- Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Parental Consent Act for Abortion
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Components of the Child Protection Act related to evidence retention and remedies for third-party interference with parental rights
- Women’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act
- Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Prevention Act
- Child Protection Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience