An Iowa bill that would recognize unborn babies as people and protect them from abortion passed a state Senate committee on Monday amid heated debate.
Radio Iowa reports “a large and vocal crowd” attended the hearing on Monday to voice their support and opposition to the measure. The committee gave its initial approval of the bill, moving it to another Senate committee for consideration.
“The sovereign state of Iowa recognizes that life is valued and protected from the moment of conception,” the bill states.
The bill would recognize that human life begins at the moment of conception and ban abortions in the state. According to the Associated Press, it is unclear if the bill has enough support to pass the full state Senate.
Pro-life attorney Rebecca Keissling, who attended the hearing, was one of several pro-lifers who spoke up in support of the bill, according to the radio report.
“You’re providing the framework to recognize that the unborn child is a person and also to have a public policy that prefers childbirth over abortion,” Keissling said.
Abortion advocates criticized the legislation, claiming it pushes a “religious point of view” about when life begins, according to the report. Others indicated that there would be a lawsuit if the bill becomes law.
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Because of the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, the measure likely would be overturned in the courts. In 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a similar personhood bill as unconstitutional because it recognized unborn babies as human beings with a right to life.
Many pro-life groups think one of the keys to ending legalized abortion is to overturn Roe v. Wade, but the current Supreme Court justices are highly unlikely to do so, especially after the unexpected death of pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia. Three of the justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, potentially would vote to overturn Roe and return abortion laws back to the authority of the states; but five of the other justices almost certainly would not. Scalia’s seat on the high court remains empty.
President Donald Trump promised to nominate “pro-life” justices to the high court, but he would need to nominate and the Senate would have to confirm several before there is a chance of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Trump’s nominee to replace Scalia, Neil Gorsuch, has taken the pro-life side in several important cases, including with pro-life Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s effort to defund Planned Parenthood and with the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby against the Obama Administration. Several pro-life groups also praised Gorsuch as a nominee.