Iowa Senate Kills Bill to Ban Abortions and Call Unborn Children Human Beings

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 2, 2017   |   6:17PM   |   Des Moines, Iowa

An Iowa bill that would have recognized unborn babies as people and banned abortions failed to make it out of a state Senate committee on Thursday.

The Gazette reports the bill died in committee after Senators failed to approve it within a short legislative deadline. Another bill that would protect unborn babies by banning painful, late-term abortions after 20 weeks still is being debated in committee, according to the report.

State Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, who co-sponsored the bill, said he was disappointed, but told reporters, “This is how the process works.”

The bill would have had the state recognize that human life begins at the moment of conception and is valuable, basically banning abortions.

Attorney Rebecca Keissling was one of several pro-lifers who spoke up in support of the measure on Monday during a committee hearing.

“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.

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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.

Because of the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, the measure likely would have been 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. The current Supreme Court is 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.