House votes to raise penalties for killing ‘unborn person’

DES MOINES — The Iowa House has voted to increase penalties for the death of an unborn person. Current law provides penalties for causing a human pregnancy to end without consent.

Democrats like Representative Beth Wessell-Kroschell of Ames say the change could make invitro fertilization illegal and they cited the recent Alabama supreme court ruling that embryos are children.  “This measure is a blatant attempt to advance an anti-abortion agenda and further enshrine the myth of fetal personhood in our state code,” she said.

Representative Heather Matson of Ankeny says her two children are the result of fertility treatments. “What can people who simply want more than anything to become a parent realistically expect if IVF is no longer available to them?” Matson said. “What a tragedy.”

Representative Skyler Wheeler, a Republican from Hull, says the bill raises the penalty for killing a mother and her unborn baby and has nothing to do with IVF. “When it comes to the Alabama stuff that you guys continue to talk about, that is in regards to their own constitution, their own laws, their own code, etc.,” Wheeler said, “not to mention the Alabama governor already signed a bill protecting IVF.”

Representative Zach Dieken of Granville says fetus is a Latin word and he prefers that English be used in Iowa law.  “I do believe my two year old is a person,” Dieken said. “I believe that my 13 month old is a person and, when my wife gives birth to my third child in November, because she informed me three days ago she’s pregnant, I do believe that person is a person.”

The bill passed with the support of 58 House Republicans. Two Republicans and 34 Democrats voted against the bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration.