The Iowa Senate soon will consider a bill to prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee moved the bill to the full Senate as pro-life advocates applauded, KCRG TV 9 reports.
The bill would require abortion practitioners to test for the unborn baby’s heartbeat before performing an abortion. If a heartbeat is detected, the abortion would be prohibited except in the case of a medical emergency. Violators would be charged with a Class D felony, and liable for up to five years in prison. Pro-life lawmakers introduced a similar bill in the state House in January.
Because an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable by about six weeks of pregnancy, the bill would prohibit almost all abortions in Iowa.
Local news outlets reported the room was packed for the committee vote Monday, with some Iowans urging lawmakers to protect unborn babies and others demanding that they keep abortions legal.
“It shows that we do respect all life (and) that all lives matter, especially young, vulnerable and innocent in the womb,” Altoona resident David Ortega said.
Abortion rights supporters, who packed the small committee chambers for the vote, said the outcome was upsetting.
“It’s an assault on the rights of Iowa’s women,” Des Moines resident Caroline Schoonover said. “I personally have had an abortion, and it would have ruined my life and that child would have had a horrible life if they had been born. This is just a necessary thing.”
Pro-life advocates and abortion activists both admitted that the bill likely will face a court challenge if it becomes law. State Sen. Rick Bertand, a Republican, admitted as much.
“Any of us that are strong in the pro life movement understand that not only will this save lives, babies, the long goal is to throw this back into the courts and start the run at [Roe] v. Wade,” Bertand said.
Whether it will be successful is difficult to say. While the rationale behind the bill is noble, many pro-life leaders recognize that, for the present, such bills may create unintended consequences that could hamper the pro-life cause.
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Because of the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts, a law to end abortions or prohibit them after a detectable heartbeat most likely would not survive a court challenge.
North Dakota and Arkansas passed heartbeat bills several years ago, but federal courts struck down both laws.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about their ruling on the six-week ban: “Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota’s law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs.”
Currently, only four of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices possibly would uphold a heartbeat law or overturn Roe.
When courts rule against such laws, state taxpayers often are forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.