Iowa lawmaker embraces forcing women to carry dead fetuses to term

Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R) said it would be fine to require women to continue such a pregnancy.

State Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R-IA) CREDIT: Lundgren for IA House Facebook page
State Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R-IA) CREDIT: Lundgren for IA House Facebook page

Iowa House Republicans advanced an unconstitutional ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy on Wednesday, sending it from the Human Resources Committee to the full House on a 11 to 8 vote. All seven Democrats and one Republican voted no. This legislation replaced their original attempt to ban abortions after just six weeks.

But a question by a Democrat on the committee revealed just how little the measure’s manager understood about the possible ramifications of her legislation — and how little concern she has for the women who face tough choices about whether to terminate a pregnancy even in the most difficult situations.

Rep. John Forbes (D), a pharmacist and the past president of the Iowa Pharmacy Association, noted that he has a pregnant daughter. During Wednesday’s committee deliberation, he asked a question about how the bill might affect her. “Worst case scenario, she talks to her doctor next Wednesday and her doctor tells her, we don’t see a heartbeat anymore in this child. Under this legislation, she would have to carry that baby until her life became endangered?” he asked. “Is that good medicine?”

The language of the legislation defines abortion as “the termination of a human pregnancy with the intent other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus,” which suggests the hypothetical scenario Forbes outlined would be exempt from the abortion ban. But the bill’s manager, Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R), did not know that.


She responded that under the text of the legislation, yes, the daughter would be forced to carry the fetus to term unless her life was at risk. After Progress Iowa posted her comment on Twitter, the Iowa House GOP caucus quickly responded that Lundgren “misspoke.”

But more concerning was her defense of such a policy. Lundgren’s own comments seemed completely unconcerned with the implications of such a ban, focusing instead on the estimated 51 abortions the bill could prevent annually.

“Rep. Forbes, this bill wasn’t written for the intent to protect or govern, on the side of the woman. It was written to save babies’ lives,” Lundgren said, adding, “I would concur that — in that instance — if your daughter’s life is not in danger, that yes, she would have to carry that baby.”

Watch the exchange:

Asked to clarify, Lundgren added that “thankfully, in places like the University of Iowa,we do have prenatal palliative care, hospice care, for situations like that, where there are people in place to help parents grieve the loss of the baby — either impending, or in this instance.”


The Iowa House GOP did not respond to Progress Iowa’s follow-up tweet asking about Lundgren’s support for the idea of forcing women to carry a fetus with no heartbeat to term.

After the measure passed, Lundgren posted on Facebook that this move is “big for Iowa and big for the babies!”

Unknown iFrame situation

Lungren has also sponsored bills this year to prohibit medical research involving aborted fetal tissue, to prohibit abortions at public medical facilities, and blocking Medicaid family planning services funds to anyone that performs abortions — as well as a non-binding resolution to designate November as Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease Awareness Month.