Watch live stream of the debate on woman’s health and pregnancy here.


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Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell’s opening comments on HF 657.

Make no doubt about it, HF 657 puts our daughter’s lives and health at risk. This bill is an extreme measure which is being sold to us as a way to keep a Nebraska physician out of Iowa. If keeping this dr. out of Iowa is necessary, there are ways to do that without risking the lives of our daughters. Using this bill for that means is equivalent to using a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

Women terminate pregnancies for many reasons. Although we may disagree with them on why, most Iowans agree that those decisions should be left up to a woman, her family, doctor, and faith advisors.

It puts our daughters at risk when a much wanted pregnancy goes wrong. We will illustrate this for Iowan’s during today’s debate.

A Nebraska woman, Danielle Deaver was excited about her pregnancy and planning for her second child. She had experienced numerous miscarriages but felt confident about her current pregnancy because she is the mother of a healthy 2 year old.  Through no fault of her own, tragedy happened: her water broke at 22 weeks. Desperate to continue the pregnancy her dr. put her on 24 hour bedrest hoping her body would replenish the amniotic fluid that protects babies and allows them to thrive in their mother’s uterus. Common practice in obstetrics has been that once a pregnant woman’s water breaks, she will deliver the baby within 24 hours to avoid life threatening infections.

Prayers, medicine and her sheer will did not replace Danielle’s amniotic fluid. As a mother, I can’t imagine how awful it must feel to realize that you can no longer protect your much anticipated pregnancy. Danielle had lost the ability to protect her unborn child and her uterus was instead crushing and suffocating the baby. Now her fetus is in distress.

Knowing that there was no hope that her pregnancy could continue to viability and knowing the baby would not survive, Danielle and her husband Robb asked to have labor induced to prevent infection and preserve their fertility. As the happy parents of a 2 year old, they wanted another chance; they knew that Danielle was at risk of infection which could not only risk her ability to have another pregnancy but could also kill her.

Based on the Nebraska 20 week ban (a bill that is very similar to HF 657) which went into effect one month earlier, three attorneys advised the Deaver medical team that they would risk losing their license, going to prison and various lawsuits if they induced Danielle’s labor. Their hands were tied and they could not use best medical practices.

Dannielle Deaver went home and waited for a life threatening infection in either her or her baby. Her life was in danger. She went home and waited for her life to be put at “immediate danger.” Finally, 8 days later, she went into labor and watched her baby die.

I feel strongly, that a family who is in this situation should not have their decisions made by politicians. It should be the family’s decision.

I may not always agree with all the decisions that Iowans make for their family, but I respect that they have the right to make them. I respect that every family is different. I respect that every pregnancy is unique. I oppose this bill not only because it does not allow for an exception for rape and incest, or real exception for the health and life of a woman, but I oppose this bill because it is extreme.

HF 657 takes away a couple’s decision making powers regarding the first days and months of parenting and put it in the hands of the government. We can all feel for this couple, struggling to make the decision that is best for their circumstances. And because each situation is different, we must protect a family’s ability to make decisions in consultation with those they trust.

Families are allowed to make many health care and life and death decisions for children. Does this bill indicate that government will move toward making these decisions for parents?

Danielle and Robb Deaver deserved to make the decision for the child they had hoped for and loved even if it were not the decision you or I may have made.