These are summaries of Iowa Abortion Laws and related laws. The Iowa Code numbers are provided with each, so you can read the original legislation in full on the Iowa General Assembly website.
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Parental Notification Law (135L)
A licensed physician who will perform an abortion on a minor (under age 18, who has not been and is not married) in the state of Iowa must provide notification to one parent in person or by certified mail at the usual place of abode of the parent. The minor may designate a grandparent to be notified, instead of a parent. However, that grandparent may be subject to civil litigation.
A pregnant minor may obtain a judicial waiver from a judge and bypass the parental consent law. Contrary to popular belief, minors do not have to be in an abusive situation to receive a judicial waiver of the parental notification law. A judge may grant a waiver, if the pregnant minor is deemed, “mature and capable of providing informed consent for the performance of an abortion.”
Physicians who violate the Parental Notification law face “serious misdemeanor” charges.
(Source: 135L.3, e, (1))
Partial-birth Abortion Prohibited (707.8A)
A person shall not knowingly perform or attempt to perform a partial–birth abortion, which is defined as “an abortion in which a person partially vaginally delivers a living fetus before killing the fetus and completing the delivery.” This prohibition shall not apply to a partial–birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of the mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury.
Those found guilty face Class “C” Felony charges, which carry a sentence of no more than 10 years in prison and fined at least $1,000 but not more than $10,000. They may also face statutory and compensatory damages from the mother on whom a partial–birth abortion is performed, the father of the unborn child, or, if the mother is less than eighteen years of age or unmarried at the time of the partial–birth abortion, a maternal grandparent of the unborn child.
Ban on Third Trimester Abortions (707.7)
The state of Iowa restricts abortions after the end of the second trimester (6 months or 24 weeks). This is basically an unenforceable law, because there is an exception for physicians who perform the abortion to preserve the pregnant woman’s “health,” and the definition of “health” is completely at the doctor’s discretion. It does not mean that the woman’s life is in danger.
Medicaid Funding of Abortions (441-78.1, 249A)
Medicaid will pay for abortions in Iowa under the following circumstances:
a. The physician certifies that the pregnant woman's life would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.
b. The physician certifies that the fetus is physically deformed, mentally deficient or afflicted with a congenital illness and the physician states the medical indication for determining the fetal condition.
c. The pregnancy was the result of rape reported to a law enforcement agency or public or private health agency which may include a family physician within 45 days of the date of occurrence of the incident. The report shall include the name, address, and signature of the person making the report. Form 470-0836 shall be signed by the person receiving the report of the rape.
d. The pregnancy was the result of incest reported to a law enforcement agency or public or private health agency including a family physician no later than 150 days after the date of occurrence. The report shall include the name, address, and signature of the person making the report. Form 470-0836 shall be signed by the person receiving the report of incest.
(Source: 441-78.1(249A) Human Services Department—Physicians' services)
Who Can Perform an Abortion (707.7)
An abortionist in Iowa is not required to be an OBGyn. To perform abortions in the state of Iowa, an abortionist must be a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the state of Iowa or an osteopath licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the state of Iowa.
Abortions - Refusal to Perform "Conscience Exception"(146)
Any individual who participates in medical procedures can refuse to participate in an abortion, if it is against that individual’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.
Individuals who refuse to participate in an abortion may not be discriminated against when it comes to employment, promotion, advancement, transfer, licensing, education, training or the granting of hospital privileges or staff appointments.
Private hospitals shall not be required to perform abortions and cannot be sued for refusing to perform an abortion.
The term “abortion” in the legislation excludes “medical care which has as its primary purpose the treatment of a serious physical condition requiring emergency medical treatment necessary to save the life of a mother.”
Murder of Fetus Aborted Alive (707.9)
A baby that survives an abortion, must be kept alive. A person who intentionally kills a viable fetus that survives an abortion shall be guilty of a class "B" felony, which means that person faces a sentence of no more than 25 years in prison.
"Viability" is defined as “that stage of fetal development when the life of the unborn child may be continued indefinitely outside the womb by natural or artificial life support systems. The time when viability is achieved may vary with each pregnancy, and the determination of whether a particular fetus is viable is a matter of responsible medical judgment.” (Source: 702.20)
Termination of a Pregnancy Reporting (144.29A)
Abortion providers must file a report for each termination of a pregnancy to the Iowa Department of Health within thirty days of the occurrence. The law requires a “good faith effort” to be made to get the following information:
a. The confidential health care provider code as assigned by the department.
b. The report tracking number.
c. The maternal health services region of the Iowa department of public health, as designated as of July 1, 1997, in which the patient resides.
d. The race of the patient.
e. The age of the patient.
f. The marital status of the patient.
g. The educational level of the patient.
h. The number of previous pregnancies, live births, and spontaneous or induced terminations of pregnancies.
i. The month and year in which the termination occurred.
j. The last menstrual period and a clinical estimate of gestation.
k. The method used for an induced termination, including whether mifepristone was used.
“Mifepristone” under item “k.” refers to the abortion pill, RU-486.
The Department of Health is supposed to publish annually a demographic summary of this information, which does not reveal the identity of any patient, health care provider, hospital, clinic, or other health facility.
Nonconsensual Termination—Serious Injury To a Human Pregnancy (707.8)
If a person intentionally kills the unborn child of a pregnant woman without her consent, that person will at the most, face charges of second degree murder, which is restricted to not more than 25 years in prison.
On May 14, 2004, then Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” that called for tougher penalties in Iowa, including first degree murder, for those who kill or injure an unborn child in the process of a violent crime.
Here are more details on the current laws:
Guilty of a Class “B” Felony (second-degree murder), faces a sentence of no more than 25 years in prison:
• A person who kills a woman’s unborn child during the act of a forcible felony.
Guilty of Class “C” Felony, <faces a sentence of no more than 10 years in prison and fined at least $1,000 but not more than $10,000:
• A person who kills a woman’s unborn child during the act of a felony or felonious assault.
• A person who kills a woman’s unborn child without the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant woman.
• A person unintentionally causes the death of a woman’s unborn child by operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. (707.6A, subsection 1, Homicide or serious injury by vehicle.)
• A person who by force or intimidation procures the consent of the pregnant person to kill her unborn child.
Guilty of Class “D” Felony,faces a sentence of no more than five years and fined of at least $750, but not more than $7,500:
• A person who causes the death of a woman’s unborn child while drag racing (under 321.278)
Guilty of an Aggravated Misdemeanor:
• A person who unintentionally causes the death of a woman’s unborn child without the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant woman in the commission of an act in a manner likely to cause the termination of or serious injury to the woman’s pregnancy.
• A person who intentionally causes serious injury to an unborn child by the commission of an act in a manner likely to cause the termination or serious injury to the woman’s pregnancy.
• A person who unintentionally causes serious injury to an unborn child by operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. (707.6A – Homocide or serious injury by vehicle)
Guilty of a Serious Misdemeanor:
• A person who unintentionally causes serious injury to an unborn child by the commission of an act in a manner likely to cause the termination of or serious injury to a woman’s pregnancy. “Serious injury” means causing the unborn child to have a “disabling mental illness, or bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, and includes but is not limited to skull fractures, rib fractures, and metaphyseal fractures of the long bones.”
The actions that cause the termination or serious injury to an unborn child do not apply to the following:
a. An act or omission of the pregnant person.
b. A termination of or a serious injury to a pregnancy which is caused by the performance of an approved medical procedure performed by a person licensed in this state to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery, irrespective of the duration of the pregnancy and with or without the voluntary consent of the pregnant person when circumstances preclude the pregnant person from providing consent.
c. An act committed in self–defense or in defense of another person or any other act committed if legally justified or excused.
Newborn Safe Haven Act (SF 355)
The Safe Haven Act allows parents - or another person who has the parent's authorization - to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a hospital or health care facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment. The parents release the child from their custody and may remain anonymous. The child must be released to a person on duty, and not left outside the facility.
More on Iowa's Safe Haven Law
More on Iowa's Safe Haven Law