Photo credit: Tony Fischer
Photo credit: Tony Fischer

Updated 5/4/18

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 359, the fetal heartbeat abortion ban, on Friday afternoon less than two days after the Iowa legislature sent it to her desk.

She made the following statement after signing the bill during a public ceremony:

I believe that all innocent life is precious and sacred, and as governor, I pledged to do everything in my power to protect it. That is what I am doing today. I understand that not everyone will agree with this decision. But if death is determined when a heart stops beating, then doesn’t a beating heart indicate life? For me, it is immoral to stop an innocent beating heart. For me, it is sickening to sell fetal body parts. For me, my faith leads me to protect every Iowan, no matter how small.

I understand and anticipate that this will likely be challenged in court, and that courts may even put a hold on the law until it reaches the Supreme Court. However, this is bigger than just a law. This is about life. I am not going to back down from who I am or what I believe in.

Iowa House passed their version of the fetal heartbeat ban after debating for almost nine hours by a 51 to 46 vote along party lines Tuesday night. The Iowa Senate concurred in a 29 to 17 vote early Wednesday morning along party lines. The bill will now go to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ desk.

In the Iowa House, State Representatives Jane Bloomingdale (R-Northwood), Chip Baltimore (R-Boone), Lee Hein (R-Monticello), Dave Maxwell (R-Gibson), Andy McKean (R-Anamosa), and Louie Zumbach (R-Coggon) were the only Republicans to vote against the bill.

The House version of the ban was in the form of an amendment to SF 359, a bill that legislation that prohibits a person from knowingly acquiring, providing, receiving, otherwise transferring, or using fetal body parts in the state of Iowa which was approved by a voice vote.

The House version 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 penalties 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 ban was amended further this afternoon after State Representative Shannon Lundgren (R-Peosta) offered an amendment that provided additional exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and fetal abnormalities. That amendment to the ban was approved 53 to 44.

The Iowa Senate started the debate on the House’s amended version at 12:57 am on Wednesday morning with debate concluding at approximately 2:15 am.

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