Proposed rules to enforce Iowa’s six week abortion ban

DES MOINES — A panel of lawmakers who oversee state agency regulations has conducted its initial review of how the Iowa Board of Medicine intends to enforce Iowa’s six-week abortion ban.

The law, passed in July, has not gone into effect due to a court challenge, but the board has drafted guidelines for when doctors may perform an abortion in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality or to save the life of the mother.

Representative Rick Olson, a Democrat from Des Moines who’s a member of the panel, says the exception in cases of rape requires it to be prosecutable –and that word isn’t defined.  “I practiced law for a long time and I do some criminal defense work,” Olson said. “What cases aren’t capable of being prosecuted? I would think all cases are capable of being prosecuted.”

Senator Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines, says the proposed rules do not use the same kind of legal terminology used in other types of medical cases, for example in workers compensation and malpractice claims. “When we’re looking at the standard for whether a fetal abnormality meets the exception and the judgment of the physician, in most areas of law here in Iowa and elsewhere we talk about whether something is in a reasonable degree of medical certainty,” Boulton says. “That’s not a standard that appears here. We see words like ‘consistent with standard practice’ and ‘reasonable medical judgment.'”

Republicans on the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee did not comment. While there was an opportunity for members of the public to comment during the meeting, no one stepped forward to speak.

The Board of Medicine is scheduled to meet Friday to review objections to the rules that were aired during a public hearing held last week.