Iowa Senate Passes Bill Banning Abortions Upon Detection of Fetal Heartbeat

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By Grace Carr, The Stream, March 1, 2018

The Iowa Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill banning abortions if an unborn child’s heartbeat is detected upon ultrasound, moving Iowa one step closer to becoming the first state to ban abortions.

Iowa lawmakers voted 30 to 20 Wednesday for Senate Bill 3143, which outlaws abortion upon the presence of a fetal heartbeat. A heartbeat typically becomes detectable between six and nine weeks gestation. The pending legislation entails any doctor being charged with a Class D felony — subject to five years in prison and a $750 to $7,500 fine — if they perform or attempt an abortion on a woman after an unborn child’s heartbeat is detected. The bill does, however, allow abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. No exceptions for rape, incest or fetal abnormalities are included in the bill.

“This bill is the logical beginning point for all of civil governance,” Iowa Republican Sen. Amy Sinclair said, according to The Courier. It gets to “the very heart and soul of what it means to be an American, what it means to be a person,” she added. Sinclair was pregnant at age 19; and after listening to the heartbeat of her son, she realized the baby inside her was not simply fetal tissue.

“Iowa would be the first state to recognize what science already affirms: a baby in the womb has her own unique DNA, her own unique heartbeat, is her own unique person. She’s a baby and she deserves to have her birthday,” The Family Leader President Bob Vander Plaats said, The Courier reported. The Family Leader seeks to “strengthen families, by inspiring Christ-like leadership in the home, the church, and the government,” according to its website.

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The Senate vote comes after an early February senate panel vote to approve the bill. Iowa’s House of Representatives is currently reviewing a similar bill, H.F. 2163.

Other Senate members who voted against the bill, however, see the measure as an assault on women’s rights rather than a necessary protection of life. “This bill is dangerous. This bill is unconstitutional. This bill devalues Iowa women,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen said, according to The Courier.

The bill is “unpopular, unconstitutional, and unconscionable,” Parenthood of the Heartland public affairs Director Erin Davison-Rippey said. “Seven in 10 Americans agree that abortion should remain safe and legal,” Davison-Rippey added.

Seventy-six percent of Americans, however, want significant abortion restrictions, including making abortion illegal after three months into pregnancy. Ninety-two percent of Republicans, 61 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of Independents want significant abortion restrictions. Thirty percent of Americans think abortions should only be permitted in cases of rape, incest or where the mother’s life is in danger. Twelve percent think abortions should only be allowed to save the life of the mother. Eight percent of Americans think abortion should never be permitted.

More than 60 percent of Americans are also in favor of banning abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy. Six in 10 Americans also oppose putting tax dollars toward abortions. Nearly 60 percent of Americans view abortion as morally wrong. Even half of pro-abortion proponents think it’s wrong to abort a child who would be born with a genetic disorder.

Iowa currently bans abortion after 20 weeks gestation.

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