Iowa Legislature rewrites 'draconian' HIV transmission bill
House takes unexpected vote, unanimously passes HIV transmission bill. Bill goes to Branstad.
At about 2 a.m., One Iowa, the state's leading gay rights organization tweeted that the Iowa House had unanimously pass Senate File 2297, a long-overdue reform of Iowa's HIV law, one of the most draconian in the USA.
The vote was unexpected and taken after the bill had been virtually ignored for more than a month, according to the Des Moines Register.
Under the old law an HIV+ woman in a relationshiop with a man who never became infected or an HIV+ man who used a condom in a consensual act during which no virus was transmitted could both be sentenced to 25 years in prison and face lifetime inclusion in a sex offender registry if convicted in court of not informing their respective partners ahead of time.
As always, One Iowa's web site assiduously credited all the organizations whose cooperation made the reform possible, putting itself last on the list.
ACLU of IowaThe new law is more nuanced than the one-size-fits-all statute it replaces.
Iowa Nurses Association
Iowa Medical Society
Iowa Association for Justice
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund
Iowa Annual Conference of United Methodist Church
Iowa Attorney General, Department of Justice
Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (CHAIN)
Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault
League of Women Voters of Iowa
Family Planning Council of Iowa
Iowa Public Health Association
Here's the press release from OneIowa, in its entirety:
Breaking News: Historic HIV bill passes Iowa House Unanimously
Category: HIV Criminalization Law, In the News, Press Release
DES MOINES–After a series of negotiations, a historic bill passed through the Iowa House early this morning that will modernize Iowa’s discriminatory HIV law. Iowa’s current law, 709c, is based on outdated science and beliefs that actually discourages testing and disclosure because of severe penalties associated with simply knowing one’s status. The new bill, Senate File 2297 (SF2297), will change the law so that it is no longer HIV specific, and converts sentencing into a tiered system instead of the “one size fits all” approach used in 709c. The bill unanimously passed the Iowa Senate in February, and moved to the House for debate this morning. The bill, which also passed unanimously in House chambers, will now head to Governor Terry Branstad’s desk for his signature.
The proposed changes to the law are supported by One Iowa, the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization, and by Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (CHAIN), an organization that has spent the last 5 years trying to reform Iowa’s HIV law. Iowa currently has one of the harshest laws in the nation that targets people living with HIV and AIDS.
"After 5 long years of fighting to change Iowa’s law, those of us living in Iowa with HIV and AIDS can finally breathe a sigh of relief,” said Tami Haught, Community Organizer with CHAIN. “We commend the leadership in the Senate and the House for understanding the importance of this bill and the need to modernize Iowa’s draconian 709c law. None of this would be possible without the bipartisan support of Senators Matt McCoy, Steve Sodders, Charles Schneider and Rob Hogg; in addition to Representatives Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, Chris Hagenow and Chip Baltimore. The changes in this new bill are a step in the right direction.
“While the bill that passed today will have a lasting and positive effect on the lives of many Iowans who currently live with HIV and AIDS in our state, our work is far from over,” Haught added. “We must continue our outreach and education within the public sphere about the realities of those living with HIV, to dispel the harmful stereotypes, stigma and misinformation often associated with the disease. Our hope is that by beginning to modernize the laws in Iowa, it will signal other states with similar legislation to do the same. HIV is not a crime; our laws here in Iowa and across the country need to reflect this fact.”
“We are pleased to see Iowa’s policy makers move this bill forward,” said Donna Red Wing, Executive Director for One Iowa. “The changes proposed in this bill will have a profound impact on the lives of Iowans living with HIV and AIDS. This bill will send an important message across the nation, most significantly to those states that still operate under the misinformation of the past. We applaud CHAIN’s efforts, but especially the work of Community Organizer Tami Haught. Tami has fearlessly and passionately shared her story with legislators and community members alike. She has changed hearts and minds, and should be commended as one of the many unsung heroes of this movement. After 5 years of conversations and perseverance, today we celebrate a victory for Iowa’s HIV community.”