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No More Surprises for Parents: Bill Would Limit Teen Body Piercing

Joyce Russell/IPR
Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion), manager of bill to require parental consent for underage body-piercing.

Piercing your ears would be exempt, but advancing to the nose or lips or beyond should require parental consent. 

That’s according to a bill considered at the Iowa Statehouse today.  

Backers say the measure would bring body piercing into better alignment with tattooing, which is banned altogether in Iowa for people under age 18, with or without parental consent.   

Daniel Zeno with the ACLU of Iowa says freedom of expression is at stake.

I believe there are some bad actors in the business

“What this does is says a minor can't express themselves in this particular way so we oppose this bill,” Zeno said.   “We believe that all of us including minors should have the right to express  themselves.”

Officials point out that unlike tattooing, body piercing is unregulated in Iowa, and some practitioners would prefer to be licensed as tattoo artists are.  

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kevin Koester (R-Ankeny), says some responsible practitioners already require parental consent.   He says they want to crack down on the irresponsible practitioners.

“I believe there are some bad actors in the business of piercing body parts of minors,” Koester said. 

Credit AbbyD11/flickr
Rainbow Eyes

Officials say the parental consent bill is one step toward regulating the now totally unregulated industry.

“I think it’s a consumer confidence issue,” said Rep. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids).

The bill did not advance beyond the initial three-member panel.   

“We need to get some clarity on who would be 

Even minors have the right to express themselves

charged, what the fine structure would actually be,” said Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion).    “And I do think we need to clarify which piercings and I think we would need to lay that out in  the code.”

For example, Hinson says a practice known as gauging stretches the earlobe and is more extensive than piercing, and it’s not clear if the bill would cover gauging.

The ACLU spokesman said by his reading, both the young person and the practitioner would be guilty of a misdemeanor for violating the terms of the law.