Proposed Iowa bill would allow abortion patients to sue doctors for emotional distress

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DES MOINES (WHO-TV) -- It's a bill that's unprecedented not just in the state of Iowa, but the entire country.

"Allow women to sue their abortion provider at any time after the procedure for emotional distress," said Planned Parenthood supporter and activist Lori Hunt.

Republican state Senator Mark Chelgren is behind the bill he says protects women forever without a statute of limitations. "I want to give a lifetime warranty so to me that was my thinking, which is hey, we need to make sure we are protecting them for life," he said.

The only problem is a group of over 50 women representing Planned Parenthood are saying no thanks. "It'll drive providers out of business. It'll increase malpractice insurance rates," said Hunt.

In a fury of social media posts on Twitter, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said, "Safe, legal abortion is not harmful to women. FACT: 95% of women report they do NOT regret deciding to have an abortion."

Hunt believes women make the decision correctly the first time, saying, "We can be trusted to make our own decisions."

Senator Chelgren says that number needs to be 100%. "In order for someone to have merit in a malpractice case, if 1% of the time there's a problem, than that's enough for fixing the problem," he said.

Opponents of the bill point to Roe vs. Wade, which gives the woman total authority in the decision.

"It's not something any woman takes lightly. It's a long time to think about it and we weigh everything," Hunt said.

Despite that, Senator Chelgren says the state has a responsibility that often gets overlooked in that same 1973 decision that legalized abortion in America.

"Roe vs Wade said more than that. It also said it's incumbent on the state to make sure the woman's mental and physical well-being and health are protected."

Senator Chelgren said he is open to setting a statute of limitations.  Planned Parenthood also stated that Iowa law already allows patients to bring civil action for physical injury or emotional distress for any medical procedure, making the bill unnecessary.

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