Iowa State Capitol Rotunda
Photo Credit: Angelo Mercado via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

The fetal heartbeat abortion ban survived the second funnel of the 2018 session of the Iowa Legislature when the Iowa House Human Resources Committee approved on a 12 to 9 vote Thursday afternoon.

The bill’s future was uncertain since the Iowa Senate passed their version on February 28, and the Iowa House did not take any action on the bill until two days before the funnel deadline. New life was breathed into the ban when an amendment was added to SF 359, legislation that prohibits a person from knowingly acquiring, providing, receiving, otherwise transferring, or using fetal body parts in the state of Iowa. That bill passed out of subcommittee on Wednesday afternoon.

SF 359 was then passed out of the committee also by a 12 to 9 vote. The House version differs with the Senate version.

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

The House version of the bill bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. It provides an exception for a medical emergency the amendment defines as:

…a situation in which an abortion is performed to preserve the life of the pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy, but not including psychological conditions, emotional conditions, familial conditions, or the woman’s age.

The Iowa Senate version stated that physicians who knowingly and intentionally perform an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected and medical emergency does not exist are guilty of a class D felony that is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $750 to $7,500, (Iowa Code § 902.9).

The Iowa House version stripped the criminal penalities out. It tasks the Iowa Board of Medicine with the responsibility to adopt rules to administer the ban. The Iowa Senate’s version also repealed the late-term abortion ban passed last year. The Iowa House stripped that repeal out of their version.

The fetal heartbeat abortion ban mostly passed on a party-line vote. State Representatives Joel Fry (R-Osceola), Rob Bacon (R-Slater), Brian Best (R-Glidden), Cecil Dolecheck (R-Mount Ayr), David Heaton (R-Mount Pleasant), Steven Holt (R-Denison), Jon Jacobsen (R-Council Bluffs), Kevin Koester (R-Ankeny), Shannon Lundgren (R-Peosta), Tom Griswold (R-Griswold), Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville), and Rob Taylor (R-West Des Moines) voted for the bill.

State Representative Michael Bergen (R-Dorchester), the vice chair of the Human Resources Committee, was the only Republican to vote against the bill. Also voting against the bill were State Representatives Beth Wessell-Kroeschell (D-Ames), Ako Abdul-Samad (D-Des Moines), Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines), Timi Brown-Powers (D-Waterloo), John Forbes (D-Urbandale), Lisa Heddens (D-Ames), Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines), and Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City).

The bill will now go to the full House for a vote.

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