Iowa bill a response to case of Indiana abortion doctor

DES MOINES — A bill has been introduced in the Iowa House in response to the recent case of more than 2400 fetal remains found in the garage and vehicle of an Indiana doctor who performed abortions.

Tom Chapman of the Iowa Catholic Conference says burying the dead respectfully is important to the Catholic Church. “Whether people oppose or support abortion, I think the least we can do is ensure that all human remains, including the bodily remains of all unborn children, are treated with dignity and respect,” Chapman said, “and I think this bill helps do that.”

If the bill becomes law as currently written, the CEO of a medical facility must ask women who have a miscarriage, abortion or stillbirth to choose burial or cremation for the remains.

Daniel Zeno, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, says medical facilities already have trained staff ask these kinds of questions.

“One of the things that happens in this bill is it deletes the word ‘fetus’ and replaces it with ‘bodily remains,’” Zeno says. “This is part of a bigger effort to define what life is.”

Connie Ryan of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa says she had a miscarriage and could not have coped with the decisions this bill forces on a woman who has lost a pregnancy.

“All I wanted to do was go home and be in my bed and I did and I stayed there for three days,” Ryan says.

Representative Robert Bacon, a Republican from Slater, is a funeral director who supports the bill.

“This is a human life that we’re talking about and the remains on this we need to treat with respect and care and we also need to care for everyone involved in this,” Bacon says.

Bacon and another Republican on a House subcommittee have voted to advance the bill. It’s now eligible for consideration in the House Human Resources Committee.