DES MOINES, Iowa, March 1, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – On Wednesday, the Iowa Senate passed landmark pro-life legislation known as the “Heartbeat Bill,” which if put into law would outlaw aborting babies with detectable heartbeats.
Pre-born babies’ hearts begin to form around 21 days into pregnancy, and are detected on ultrasounds just a few weeks later.
Iowa’s Republican-controlled upper chamber approved the bill in a 30-20 vote along party lines.
The legislation which now awaits a vote by the state’s lower chamber – also controlled by a Republican majority – would make it a felony for doctors to commit abortions after detecting a fetal heartbeat.
The only exception would be for pregnancies that threaten a mother’s life.
“This bill is the logical beginning point for all of civil governance,” said Sen. Amy Sinclair, adding that it strikes “at the very heart and soul of what it means to be an American, what it means to be a person.”
Sinclair also asserted that the anti-abortion measure is not a war on women, noting, “roughly fifty percent (50%) of the people we are electing to protect here are indeed women, so in fact a failure to pass this bill would be the true war on women in its most pure sense.”
Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, who served on the subcommittee which produced the legislation, said he believes culture has been moving towards a pro-life view for decades – a view that has become repulsed by a “holocaust of death” related to abortion.
“This may be what our culture is ready for,” Schultz continued. “Stopping a beating heart is never health care.”
Planned Parenthood gloats: Iowa Catholic Conference ‘neutral’ on Heartbeat Bill
Planned Parenthood is broadcasting that the Iowa Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Iowa Catholic Bishops, has joined with them and Democrat legislators in opposing the Heartbeat Bill.
The Iowa Catholic Conference was officially “neutral” on the Heartbeat Bill.
After passage of the bill on Wednesday, Planned Parenthood voters of Iowa tweeted, “Iowa Medical Society, Iowa Catholic Conference, common sense: Passing the 6-week abortion ban is a bad idea.” The tweet included a gif of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West shaking their heads.
Iowa Medical Society, Iowa Catholic Conference, common sense: Passing the 6-week abortion ban is a bad idea.
— PP Voters of Iowa (@PPVotesIA) February 28, 2018
In a statement issued on February 8 to the Iowa Senate Judiciary Subcommittee as it discussed the bill, the Iowa Catholic Conference said that it “supports the life-affirming intent of ‘heartbeat legislation,’” but stopped far short of offering robust support for the measure itself:
We acknowledge the efforts of legislators and groups who challenge the current legal precedents to abortion.
We respect the fact that legislation often involves judgments about the most effective and timely means for advancing the protection of unborn children.
At the same time, we should take into account that this bill is likely to be found unconstitutional. We should consider the unintended long-term consequences that could result from a court finding a robust right to an abortion in Iowa’s Constitution, which could include the elimination of some of the limitations on abortion we already have in Iowa. Therefore, the Iowa Catholic Conference is registered as neutral on the legislation.
Despite the opportunity to pass the groundbreaking anti-abortion legislation into law, a number of pro-life groups have shied away from offering their support. They say if enacted, it will immediately be tied up in protracted litigation and ultimately face defeat in court.
They argue that the measure violates the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings that affirm women have a legal right to abortion, saying this is reason enough to adopt a more measured, incremental approach. Such an approach, they say, can’t be easily assailed as unconstitutional.
When a similar Heartbeat Bill was introduced in Tennessee last year, Tennessee Right to Life opposed it. The organization’s president, Brian Harris, was as far as to testify against the legislation, saying that his group wants to support measures that stand a stronger chance of holding up in court.
Harris warned that no abortion prior to viability of the pre-born baby can be criminalized, adding that the U.S. Supreme Court has already struck down the efforts of two states to enact a similar “heartbeat” law, according to a report in the Memphis Daily News.
The Ohio legislature passed a Heartbeat Bill in 2016, but Republican Gov. John Kasich vetoed it. Ohio Right to Life opposed that bill.
But other pro-life activists see “heartbeat” legislation as likely to be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, and say they don’t want to adopt a defeatist attitude.
“Iowa would be the first state to recognize what science already affirms: a baby in the womb has her own unique DNA, her own unique heartbeat, is her own unique person,” noted Bob Vander Plaats, president and chief executive officer of The Family Leader, an Iowa-based pro-life and pro-family group.
Iowa’s Heartbeat Bill still has hurdles to clear. Republican House leaders haven’t said publicly if they will support the bill, according to a report in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. That report also noted, “Republicans hold a 59-41 majority in that chamber. GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds also hasn’t given a definitive answer on the legislation.”