Iowa Abortion Bill: Proposed Legislation Could Send One-Third Of Women to Jail

Iowa Republicans have introduced a bill that redefines murder to include knowingly “killing” a fertilized egg. This law would lead to the imprisonment of women who have abortions (currently, approximately one-third of women in the U.S. will have an abortion in their lifetime) as well as women who use certain types of birth control that prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

This law is similar to personhood legislation that has been seen on ballots and in legislatures in recent years, but it’s the first to boldly champion criminal consequences for women.

The anti-abortion movement has long struggled with what should happen to women who have illegal abortions if abortion is made illegal again. Recent anti-abortion legislation has focused on criminal punishment of doctors who provide abortion procedures, while female abortion patients are confronted with efforts to burden and shame their access to abortion care (waiting periods, ultrasound and biased counseling requirements).

Criminalizing abortion would not eliminate its existence: it was estimated that pre-Roe v. Wade somewhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million illegal abortions were performed per year.  

Some may argue that the criminalization of abortion in one state would simply require women to travel to another state to acquire an abortion, as did occur pre-Roe v. Wade. This, however, would result in a disproportionate number of murder prosecutions of poor and minority women, who do not have the resources to take time off work and travel long distances for days at a time.

Do Americans really want to send women who choose to have abortions to jail? If not, how can we make law and not punish people who violate it? A law like this one, in the hands of a zealous prosecutor, could put as many as one third of Iowa’s women in jail. This is the true nature of outlawing abortion and hopefully a wake-up call to anyone who has considered personhood legislation rational.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Alison Tanner

Alison is a recent graduate of the University of California - Davis, where she studied political science and women's studies and served the student body as an ASUCD Senator. She is currently a legal assistant for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. Views expressed here are her own.

MORE FROM

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman ws catcalled on stage and it didn't go well

Hall of fame hockey player Marcel Dionne yelled "Look at those legs!" while onstage with Raisman at the 2017 NHL Awards.

How the Senate's draft health care plan could affect reproductive services

It is very close to the House's version of the bill, and would block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year.

Jury in Bill Cosby case voted 10-2 in favor of conviction, according to juror report

2 jurors prevented the unanimous vote prosecutors needed to convict Bill Cosby of criminal charges, according to an account given to ABC News.

Florida higher-ed official says "women's genetics" cause the wage gap, apologizes

Ed Morton, a Florida university system board member, suggested women's genetics could be preventing them from negotiating higher pay.

Australian Sen. Larissa Waters gives speech to Parliament while breastfeeding like it's NBD

When you have to address the resurgence of black lung within the coal mining industry, but your daughter is also hungry...

Girl Scouts to offer badges in cybersecurity, hacking

Because girls need cyber skills, too.

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman ws catcalled on stage and it didn't go well

Hall of fame hockey player Marcel Dionne yelled "Look at those legs!" while onstage with Raisman at the 2017 NHL Awards.

How the Senate's draft health care plan could affect reproductive services

It is very close to the House's version of the bill, and would block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year.

Jury in Bill Cosby case voted 10-2 in favor of conviction, according to juror report

2 jurors prevented the unanimous vote prosecutors needed to convict Bill Cosby of criminal charges, according to an account given to ABC News.

Florida higher-ed official says "women's genetics" cause the wage gap, apologizes

Ed Morton, a Florida university system board member, suggested women's genetics could be preventing them from negotiating higher pay.

Australian Sen. Larissa Waters gives speech to Parliament while breastfeeding like it's NBD

When you have to address the resurgence of black lung within the coal mining industry, but your daughter is also hungry...

Girl Scouts to offer badges in cybersecurity, hacking

Because girls need cyber skills, too.