Iowa Senate Passes ‘Fetal Homicide’ Bill Despite Concerns of ‘Personhood’ Language

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa House of Representatives received the ‘fetal homicide’ bill Wednesday morning after it passed the senate Tuesday afternoon.

If it becomes law, this bill would increase the penalty for a person who causes the death of an unborn fetus.

"When a domestic violence situation occurs or a vehicular homicide, those type of incidents, in which a mother and her unborn child are killed or murdered the charge for the baby is the same as the mother. So instead of receiving one count of felony murder they would see two counts of felony murder," Iowa State Senator Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said.

That means whoever is found responsible could be sentenced to life in prison for the deaths.

The bill also gives a definition for "unborn person" something which is not defined anywhere in Iowa law.

Planned Parenthood representatives said they weren't involved in this bill until that definition was added.

"The problem lies in inserting this language into code. So this specific bill does not bring us to a ban on abortion right away, however, it then writes in our code, a definition of person that could interfere with private medical decisions,"Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Public Affairs Manager Jamie Burch Elliott said.

She said “personhood language” is dangerous.

“When you define a person, in this way, then you could ultimately end up with bans on birth control bans on in vitro fertilization attempts at criminalizing a miscarriage or criminal investigations for miscarriage,” Elliott said.

Chapman said the definition is important because in his opinion it humanizes the unborn.

“I think it’s important that we recognize the dignity of not only the born person, but the unborn person and I think it’s extreme to view an individual who has been murdered at 38 or 39 weeks as any different than a one week old,” Sen. Chapman said.

The bill now moves onto the house for discussion.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.