DES MOINES, Iowa, May 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Iowa legislature has passed legislation banning abortion once a baby’s heartbeat is detected. If the governor signs it, it would be the strongest pro-life law in America.
SF 359 passed the House 51-46 and the Senate 29-17 on Tuesday. Amendments added the same day allow exceptions for babies conceived in rape if reported within 45 days, babies conceived in incest if the incest is reported within 140 days, or fetal abnormalities deemed “incompatible with life.” It already had an exception for physical threats to the mother’s life.
Preborn babies’ hearts finish forming around 7-8 weeks into pregnancy.
The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has not yet said whether she will sign it. A spokeswoman told CNN the governor “is 100% pro-life and will never stop fighting for the unborn,” but Reynolds also told reporters her team has to review it first.
“Sometimes, there’s things in there we weren’t anticipating or didn’t know about,” she explained. “And so we take the time, whoever the policy person is in that area, and the team goes through it. Then we make the decision.”
Current judicial precedent says that abortion cannot be banned prior to fetal viability. This has led some pro-life activists to oppose heartbeat legislation on the premise that Roe v. Wade should not be directly challenged until the Supreme Court has a clear pro-life majority, because otherwise the pro-life side might lose. However, the bill’s supporters say they’re counting on a legal battle and that this is an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“We created an opportunity to take a run at Roe v. Wade – 100 percent,” Republican state Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, said, according to Reuters. During the floor debate, he told his GOP colleagues it would be “the vote of your career.”
“This law, if signed, I believe could very well be the very bill that overturns Roe v. Wade,” Republican Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, added.
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-IA, celebrated the bill’s passage for “heroically plac[ing] our state in the forefront of efforts to protect innocent, unborn life from the abortionists,” and took it as a sign “that the time is right for a challenge to Roe v. Wade to occur.” King is the sponsor of a federal heartbeat bill that he says is being blocked by National Right to Life.
Currently, the strongest pro-life law in the United States is Mississippi’s ban on abortion at 15 weeks, which is tied up in court. A 15-week ban is making its way through the Louisiana legislature, as well.
How the current Supreme Court would rule on abortion is unclear. The Court’s newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, has not previously ruled on abortion, but is widely assumed to be pro-life. The swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, is generally pro-abortion, though he has expressed openness to some limits, and some observers speculate he could be be persuaded further still.
Rumours swirl around Capitol Hill that Kennedy will be next to retire, giving President Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint a pro-life replacement. King has previously estimated that any bill directly challenging Roe would take at least a year and a half to reach the Supreme Court, making it all but certain a different, more conservative lineup of justices would be deciding its fate.