Iowa House Republicans would make it a felony to “manufacture, distribute, prescribe, dispense, sell or transfer” abortion drugs in Iowa.
According to House File 146, filed Monday, the bill will not include penalties for the women who take or obtain the pills, and it doesn’t include birth control.
Despite abortion being legal in Iowa until the 20th week of pregnancy, the bill would make it a crime for someone to provide the most common method of abortion in the country. The penalty would mean “confinement for no more than 10 years and a fine of at least $1,370 but not more than $13,660.”
Medication abortion is typically used in the first 10-11 weeks of pregnancy when it’s most effective. Patients take one pill, and then, 24 hours later, take a second one. Failure rate is documented in only 1.1% of patients.
Analyses have shown this method of abortion to be safe, with complications occurring in less than 0.3% of patients and it is approved by major medical organizations both nationally and internationally.
State data from 2020, the latest available, shows the vast majority of abortions performed were medical rather than surgical.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced retail pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens will be allowed to sell mifepristone, the first pill in the two-pill sequence to induce abortions. In December 2021, the FDA also permanently lifted restrictions on receiving abortion pills through the mail, reversing previous policies that required patients to get the pills in person.
Restricting the sale of the pills would conflict with federal approval of the pills.
No reason is given in the bill, but it means patients wouldn’t be able to get abortion pills, or prescriptions for them, from their doctors. In that case, pregnant people would have to look out of state and use telemedicine and the postal service.
Iowa was one of the first states to participate in telemedicine abortion in 2008, and a 2013 study showed a significant reduction in second-trimester abortions because of it.
Abortion rates steadily decreased in Iowa until the state withdrew from federal family planning services in 2017, but they went up again after the decision was in place.
In 2018, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law banning abortion after six weeks, but it has been blocked by the courts. The law was initially blocked in 2019, but since the overturn of Roe v Wade last June, Reynolds has asked the courts to reconsider.
A District Court judge in December last year upheld the injunction and the case has been appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.
The bill’s sponsors are:
Jeff Shipley (R-Fairfield)
Helena Hayes (R-New Sharon)
Steven Bradley (R-Cascade)
Mark Thompson (R-Clarion)
Brad Sherman (R-Williamsburg)
Bob Henderson (R-Sioux City)
Anne Osmundson (R-Volga)
Mark Cisneros (R-Muscatine)
Charley Thomson (R-Charles City)
Luana Stoltenberg (R-Davenport)
Skyler Wheeler (R-Hull)
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