Iowa House Chamber
Photo Credit: Jason Mrachina via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

The second funnel for this year’s Iowa legislative session will soon be upon us. The Iowa Senate last week passed SF 2281, a bill, if enacted, would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected (approximately at the sixth week of a pregnancy).

The legislation states that except in the case of a medical emergency an abortion is not permitted if a heartbeat is detected through the use of an abdominal ultrasound. The legislation defines a medical emergency as the life of the mother being endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, physical injury, or a physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy.

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).

Physicians charged or indicted for violating this proposed law may request a hearing before the Iowa Board of Medicine to determine whether a medical emergency did in fact exist. The findings of the board on the issue of the medical emergency would then be admissible during their trial.

As of Monday afternoon, the bill has not yet been assigned to a committee.

Groups like The FAMiLY Leader, Lutheran Family Services, Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagles of Iowa (formerly Eagle Forum of Iowa), Concerned Women for America of Iowa, and Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition previously announced support. The Iowa Catholic Conference that was previously registered as undecided released the following statement about the bill on Monday:

Senate File 2281 has passed the Senate by a vote of 30-20. The bill would stop abortions after the heartbeat of the baby can be detected. The bill now moves to the House. The ICC supports the life-affirming intent of the bill and we appreciate legislators for their efforts to advance the protection of unborn children. We are helping with efforts aimed at resolving questions regarding the bill’s constitutionality.

My hope is that Iowa House Republicans would advance this vital piece of pro-life legislation and pass it. I have no idea what the whip count is in the Iowa House Republican Caucus for this bill. If Republicans were united the passage of the bill would be certain since as they hold a 59 to 41 advantage.

[Update: I edited this post for two reasons: 1. There are 59 House Republicans, not 57 – my bad. 2. I unintentionally offended some folks I deeply respect who have concerns about the future of this bill in court. When I questioned if we had 59 Republican reps who were “truly” pro-life, I did not mean to imply that just because you opposed this bill (on the grounds of judicial review) you are not “truly” pro-life. I regret how that came across and I apologize.]

However, I’m not certain that the Iowa House Republicans have 59 members who are truly pro-life. There are some who are likely not. We also have pro-life groups, such as the Iowa Catholic Conference, who are absolutely pro-life but are concerned about a potential judicial review of this bill putting the pro-life movement back.

I understand that concern but respectfully disagree. If there are members who believe that way they should stand on that position and explain it. It does us no good to continually hide these conversations in the caucus process.

They should proceed with a vote even if the bill will fail so all members are on the record. Iowans deserve to know where their Representatives stand on this issue by how they vote. Don’t let the bill die without a committee vote.

1 comment
  1. In the Book of Hebrews, those patriarchs who were honored because of their faith were not guided by any errant Constitution but listened to the voice of God informing the conscience beyond natural reason. The Catholic Bishops should also leave natural politics and teach what is right and just in faith to all people, no matter the bindings of any constitutional opinions. Else they will be as those who allowed the murder of Jesus Christ for the sake of the many. To where they caution that current advances with restricting abortion may be lost thru a court challenge with this legislation is an act of cowardliness. No one follows a coward. Instead, they follow truth, even thru an open sea.

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