The pro-life movement in Iowa is celebrating the passage of a massive bill which protects those precious lives in the womb. The Republican lawmakers sent to the governor’s desk a bill which ban nearly all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs very early in the pregnancy.
The “heartbeat” bill is expected to be signed into law by anti-abortion Republican Governor Kim Reynolds. As Fox 29 reports, critics are arguing the bill would outlaw the option of an abortion before some women recognize that they are even pregnant.
That could set up the state for a legal challenge over its constitutionality, including from the same federal appeals court that three years ago struck down similar legislation approved in Arkansas and North Dakota.
Backers of the legislation, which failed to get a single Democratic vote in either Iowa chamber, expressed hope it could challenge Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established women have a right to terminate pregnancies until a fetus is viable. Conservatives say an influx of right-leaning judicial appointments under President Donald Trump could make it a possibility.
“Today we will begin this journey as Iowa becomes ground zero, now nationally, in the life movement,” Sen. Rick Bertrand, a Republican from Sioux City, said during floor debate.
This is historic. Iowa may soon be the first state to protect preborn children once a heartbeat is detected. This bill is in line with science, and it now heads to the state’s governor, who says she is “100 percent pro-life.” https://t.co/IbP8gOz9MW
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) May 3, 2018
Iowa is not the first state to push for a “heartbeat” bill as several other states have tried. The attempts however were hamstrung in the courts over questions of constitutionality.
Mississippi, North Dakota, and Arkansas have each tried, but were shot down by the courts. Check it out:
Several states have attempted to advance abortion bans in recent years. Mississippi passed a law earlier this year banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but it’s on hold after a court challenge. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear similar heartbeat bills North Dakota and Arkansas approved in 2013, after they were rejected by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A federal court challenge would likely make its way to that appeals court, which has become increasingly conservative during Donald Trump’s administration.
Of the 11 active judges on the court, only one Democratic appointment remains. Jane Kelly was named by Barack Obama in 2013. One judge is a Ronald Reagan pick, six were appointees of George W. Bush and three were named to the court by Donald Trump. Two Trump judges replaced Bill Clinton appointees. The third replaced a Bush judge.
The court begrudgingly rejected as unconstitutional the heartbeat bills from North Dakota and Arkansas. In both cases the appeals court judges made it clear they were only striking down the laws because the U.S. Supreme Court precedent bound them to do so. They strongly suggested that the high court reverse previous abortion rulings by eliminating a federal constitutional right to abortion and allowing states to decide when a fetus is viable.
If the bill were to be signed into law by the governor and kept by the courts, it would add to Iowa’s commitment to being vigorously pro-life. Here’s even more:
The bill provides immunity to women receiving abortions but not to doctors who perform them. Their licenses could be revoked for violations, and prosecutors could consider criminal charges against them. That’s not addressed by the bill, a point Democrats criticized.
Iowa Republicans have long sought to approve legislation that would further restrict abortion, and their flip of the state Senate chamber in the 2016 election gave them a trifecta of GOP power for the first time in nearly 20 years. Last session, they passed a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is in effect.
A provision in that legislation requiring a three-day waiting period for abortions – among the longest wait periods in the country – was challenged in court. It remains on hold amid litigation being considered by the state Supreme Court.
Iowa Republicans have indicated the 20-week ban was just the start toward the legislation finalized Wednesday.
“A baby has become something we can throw away. This bill says it’s time to change the way we think about unborn life,” said Rep. Sandy Salmon, a Janesville Republican.