An Iowa state representative argued for new restrictions on no-fault divorce laws by saying his teenage granddaughter was at risk of becoming "more promiscuous" following her parents' split.
Iowa was the second state in the U.S. to adopt no-fault divorce laws, which allow couples to split up without citing wrongful behavior from either party. As The Huffington Post reported on Tuesday, supporters of no-fault laws have said they can help women escape domestic violence.
Radio Iowa reported on Monday that according to State Rep. Tedd Gassman (R), his granddaughter was in a position to become more sexually active following his daughter's divorce from his son-in-law.
"There's a 16-year-old girl in this whole mix now," said Gassman, a member of a three-person subcommittee that approved House File 338 by a 2-1 vote. "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?"
The bill, which will next be considered by the state House Judiciary Committee, would prohibit no-fault divorces for couples raising children under 18 years of age unless one spouse could prove the other had been convicted of a felony, had committed adultery or physical or sexual abuse, or had abandoned the family for a minimum of a year.
Gassman called the bill an attempt to keep fathers in the home.
"In my opinion, it's time to look out for the children instead of constantly worrying about the adults," he said.
Another state lawmaker, Rep. Marti Anderson (D), said the new bill could hurt families by forcing unhappy unions to stay together, as was the case for her parents.
"The stay-together time was very, very damaging to my family," she said on Monday. "Although we're all adults now, I'm not sure any of us have ever really gotten past that."
A spokesperson for the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance, Karl Schilling, suggested that the bill was a distraction from other solutions.
"I think if you really want to lessen the divorce rate, there’s better things the legislature can do, such as work against poverty, increase jobs," Schilling said.
["Teenage daughter covers ears during family argument" via Shutterstock]