Iowa Bill to Ban Abortions When a Baby’s Heartbeat Begins Advances in State Legislature

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 15, 2018   |   9:48PM   |   Des Moines, IA

Iowa pro-life lawmakers advanced legislation this week to protect unborn babies from abortions once they have a detectable heartbeat.

The state Senate passed heartbeat legislation in February; however, the House did not advance the legislation, according to Iowa Public Radio.

Instead, several Iowa House Republicans amended another pro-life bill this week to include language prohibiting abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.

The conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts reports more:

Instead of sending Senate File 2281 (a bill that would prevent the abortion of all unborn babies with a heartbeat) out of committee, heartbeat language will now be attached to Senate File 359, a bill that prohibits a person from knowingly acquiring, providing, receiving, otherwise transferring, or using fetal body parts in the state of Iowa..

“SF2281 had some flaws that would make it nearly impossible to pass through our caucus,” stated Representative Shannon Lundgren (R-Peosta). Lundgren chaired the subcommittee that made this amendment to SF359.

“We have instead, taken up SF359, the Fetal Body Parts bill, and added an amendment adjusting the heartbeat language,” she continued. “Essentially, we removed criminal penalties for physicians, removed the repeal of our 20-week abortion ban and ensured that there was language that meet[s] the muster in regards to the life and health of the mother.”

The amended legislation passed a House subcommittee Wednesday, the AP reports.

Democratic Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, blasted the amendment as a “bait and switch.”

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.

Because an unborn baby’s heartbeat begins so early after conception, the bill would prohibit almost all abortions in Iowa.

Pro-life lawmakers acknowledged that the bill challenges current legal decisions on abortion, and expressed hope that it eventually could reverse Roe v. Wade.

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Many years ago, scientific research established that an unborn baby’s heart starts beating around 21 days after fertilization – usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Many sources on fetal development report this, though others link to evidence that the heartbeat begins at about 18 days. In 2016, researchers at the University of Oxford found evidence that an unborn baby’s heart may begin beating even earlier – by 16 days after conception, according to the Daily Mail.

While the rationale behind this 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.

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 the pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.