GOP lawmaker seeks Iowa waiting period for abortion, but bill will face legislative opposition



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DES MOINES, Iowa — A Republican lawmaker said Monday that he plans to renew an effort to require a waiting period for abortions in Iowa, but it's not clear that he'll find support to pass a bill in the politically divided state Legislature.

Sen. David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, said he has submitted a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would set counseling requirements followed by a 72-hour waiting period before a woman could receive an abortion. Iowa currently has no such restrictions.

"There are plenty of stories of mothers changing their minds if given a chance," Johnson said. He said the bill provides an exemption to the waiting period if the mother had a medical emergency.

A total of 35 states currently require counseling before getting an abortion, with 26 of those states imposing a waiting period between the counseling and the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights think-tank. But just a handful of states impose a 72-hour wait.

Under the proposed Iowa legislation, doctors would have to provide women with a variety of written information, including details on the risks, fetal development and with a statement that says "the life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

Johnson has unsuccessfully pushed for similar legislation in the past, during 16 years in the Iowa House and Senate. It is not clear this year will be any different, given that Democrats control the Senate by a narrow margin and have opposed new abortion restrictions in the past.

"It's an unnecessary intrusion into the doctor patient relationship," said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City. He said he did not expect the bill to move through the legislative process.

Jimmy Centers, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, said in a statement that the governor is "a strong supporter of pro-life policies," and would review any bill that reached his desk.

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