The pro-life community has much to be thankful for after Iowa’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a fetal heartbeat bill on Wednesday — a victory for the unborn and a profound recognition of the sanctity of life.
If Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is pro-life, signs the bill into law, it would prohibit most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which occurs generally around six weeks after conception.
“This is a remarkable sign of the shift in our culture to understanding the value of human life,” Maggie DeWitte, executive director at Iowans for LIFE (IFL), told LifeZette by email.
“If signed into law, this would be the strictest abortion ban in the country,” she said. “And it makes me proud that Iowa is leading the way on this.”
Still, in her eyes, the measure does not go far enough.
“Iowans for LIFE and the Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders were disappointed with the exceptions for rape, incest, and fetal abnormalities that were added to the bill,” she explained. “IFL firmly believes that regardless of the circumstances of how a child was conceived, or if that child has a disability, it is still a life that needs to be protected.”
As one might expect, the bill is getting a ton of pushback from those who are pro-choice and who advocate for abortion on demand. “[The] actions to ban abortion are an embarrassment to Iowa and they will remain a blemish on our state for the foreseeable future, serving as one more reminder that Iowa’s leadership does not value health care,” said Erin Davison-Rippey, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa (PPVI), on the company’s website.
“Access to family planning and contraception, pre-natal care, mental health, and even basic affordable care under Medicaid are all in shambles,” the press release continued. “By passing an intentionally unconstitutional bill, Iowa Republicans have declared that they do not care about the foundational values of our state, or Iowa’s future.”
PPVI director Davison-Rippey and IFL’s DeWitte can agree on something: If the bill is signed into law, there could be legal challenges.
“We do realize the certain likelihood that an injunction will be filled and a court action will be initiated,” DeWitte told LifeZette this week. “We, however, welcome the opportunity to challenge the unjust law, Roe vs. Wade, that legalized abortion in our country. It is an unjust law that has led to the death of 60 million of our brothers and sisters. We would love for Iowa to lead the charge on that challenge.”
Davison-Rippey counts the cost of potential challenges.
“The bill is now headed to Gov. Reynolds, who will inevitably lead Iowa into an expensive, lengthy legal battle if she signs it into law,” said Davison-Rippey in her statement, referring to the bill as the “so-called” fetal heartbeat bill.
LifeZette reached out to PPVI, but did not hear back by publication time.
Lila Rose, activist and founder of Live Action, a pro-life advocacy organization based in Arlington, Virginia, also weighed in on the new Iowa bill. “If Gov. Reynolds does the right thing and signs this bill into law, Iowa could become the safest state in the nation for preborn children,” she told LifeZette.
“This law [would] acknowledge the scientific fact that the pro-abortion movement tries desperately to ignore: This is a unique, individual human life in the womb, not a ‘clump of cells’; and just three weeks after fertilization, the child’s little heart is already beating,” she said. “It’s time for society and our laws to acknowledge that there are two human beings in a pregnancy — and both deserve protection.”
Iowa is not the first state to pass a fetal heartbeat bill, as whotv.com noted: Both North Dakota and Arkansas previously enacted similar measures, but the courts blocked both of those. Gov. Reynolds of Iowa has not yet indicated how she might go on the bill in her state, though her office released a statement on Wednesday that said, in part, “Governor Reynolds is solidly pro-life and will never stop fighting to protect the unborn; however, she doesn’t comment on any bill until seeing it in its final form.”
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.