Iowa GOP Lawmakers Try To Curtail Divorce, Worry It Makes Young Women More 'Promiscuous' (UPDATE)

UPDATE: 2:37 p.m. -- The Des Moines Register reports that the divorce bill will not advance in the legislature this year:

It cleared a subcommittee on Monday, but House Judiciary Committee Chairman Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, said the bill would not get a hearing before the full committee ahead of a looming deadline.

Most bills now before the Legislature must win committee approval by Friday to remain viable for passage.

Previously: A bill making it harder for couples to divorce was approved by an Iowa state House subcommittee on Monday, with a supporter of the legislation arguing it is necessary to prevent young girls from being more "promiscuous."

The bill would make "no fault" divorces illegal in Iowa for parents of children who are minors. Now that it has been approved by the three-person subcommittee, it is ready for debate by the full state House Judiciary Committee, according to NBC 13 Des Moines.

State Rep. Tedd Gassman (R), one of the seven Republican sponsors of the bill, said that the legislation is an attempt to keep families together -- something he believes is a pillar that will keep the country from falling apart.

"I sincerely believe that the family is the foundation of this nation and this nation will go the direction of our families," said Gassman, according to Radio Iowa. "If our families break up, so will this nation."

Gassman also suggested that divorce can affect children's behavior, specifically that it can make teenage girls more likely to engage in sexual activity than children of parents who are not divorced.

Speaking about his granddaughter, whose parents recently divorced, Gassman said, "There's a 16-year-old girl in this whole mix now. Guess what? What are the possibilities of her being more promiscuous? What are the possibilities of all these other things surrounding her life that a 16-year-old girl, with hormones raging, can get herself into?"

Opponents of the bill said they believe that the law may actually damage families further. State Rep. Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines) believes that her parents stayed together for too long and that eight years of tension between them still affects her and her siblings today.

"The stay-together time was very, very damaging to my family and although we're all adults now, I'm not sure any of us have ever really gotten past that," said Anderson.

All 50 states currently allow no-fault divorce. Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied divorce, has found that such laws help women, leading to a drop in domestic violence.

The Iowa legislation, according to NBC 13, would allow divorce only in cases of adultery, physical or sexual abuse, imprisonment or if one partner is missing for more than a year or the couple has lived apart for more than two years.

This post has been updated with video of Gassman's comments, courtesy of Progress Iowa.

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