The fight for unborn life took center stage in week 11 of the 87th Iowa General Assembly. I serve on the Human Resources Committee, and we debated late into the night Wednesday, March 29th before passing a 20 week abortion ban. The legislation now moves to the full House for consideration.
The science is very clear. Life begins at conception:
- From the moment of conception, an unborn child has a unique DNA Code, separate and distinct from their parents. A unique human being. A unique human soul.
- At 18 – 21 days the unborn child has a heartbeat.
- Organs are functioning at 8 weeks and that unborn child can suck their thumb.
- Fingerprints appear, totally unique to that unborn child, at about 9 weeks.
- At 10 weeks, the latest science suggests, the unborn child is perfectly formed and feels pain.
- A precious unborn child can smile at 12 weeks, perhaps at the sound of a mother’s voice.
If life begins at conception, as is made profoundly clear by the facts, human life must be protected from conception to natural death, and all constitutional protections apply to the child in the womb. The basic right to life should belong to every, single human being. The Declaration of Independence declares we are “created equal,” not born equal. I believe this distinction is important, because it suggests that constitutional protections should begin at conception.
Beginning in 1850, when the heartbeat first became known, we have used it and continue to use it as one of the first checks to determine end of life. We all know that when the heart stops, life ends. Only living things have heartbeats. So since we in fact judge the absence of a heartbeat as the end of a human life or the absence of life, why would it not be logical to use the presence of the heartbeat as the beginning of life? The heartbeat is present as early as 18 to 21 days and it is certainly present at 20 weeks.
There was an amendment to the 20 week bill that would have recognized the heartbeat of the unborn child as the moment that life must be protected. Unfortunately we did not have the votes to move a Life at Conception bill or a heartbeat bill through the committee. Because the 20 week bill is a step forward and could save an estimated 51 babies a year in Iowa, I supported it. It is my hope, however, that in the near future we can advance legislation that will recognize Life at Conception or at the detection of a heartbeat. This is important because all unborn lives matter, not just those after 20 weeks.
I am reminded in this debate of the immortal worlds of Blackstone inscribed on the walls above the staircase I climb each day I report to work at the Capitol on your behalf: “LAW IS THE EMBODIMENT OF THE MORAL SENTIMENT OF THE PEOPLE.” If, as Blackstone states, our laws are the embodiment of our morality, then we have a big problem in Iowa with laws that callously disregard the right to life of unborn children while recognizing them as human beings elsewhere in code, for purposes of litigation and the murder of expectant mothers. Unborn lives matter, and we must continue to work to protect the lives of unborn human beings.
Editor’s note: Watch State Representative Holt’s remarks at the pro-life rally on Thursday below.