On Wednesday, April 19, the Iowa House passed Senate File 401 with a vote of 94-4 that would allow a sexual assault survivor to petition for a civil protective order. Iowa is one of the few states that has not provided civil protective orders for survivors of sexual violence. Currently, unless a survivor of sexual violence has some type of relationship with the person who does harm that Iowa law would define as domestic violence, that survivor is unable to receive a protective order in the civil legal system.
The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (IowaCASA) has urged elected officials for 10 years to pass a sexual assault protective order bill. Senate File 401, as adopted by the Iowa House of Representatives, now moves on to Governor Terry Branstad, where his signature is expected. When the bill is signed into law, Iowa will become the 35th state to offer protective orders for survivors of sexual violence, along with the District of Columbia.
“It’s been a long but necessary 10-year push to finally get this bill passed,” says Beth Barnhill, Executive Director of IowaCASA. “We owe a great debt to the brave survivors who came forward to share their experiences with legislators and discussed the impact this law could have on others. We are grateful for the unparalleled support from elected officials in both the House and the Senate this year, including Representatives Greg Heartsill and Chip Baltimore, and Senators Janet Petersen, Dan Dawson, and Pam Jochum. Sexual assault protective orders are crucial for the healing and safety of survivors. This bill, once signed into law, will have a life-changing impact for survivors across the state. We celebrate this victory today alongside survivors, advocates, and allies who have been working for the past decade to pass this legislation. Survivors deserve this.”