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Heartbeat Bill passes by overwhelming votes in the Iowa House and Senate. Pro-life Gov. Reynolds to sign this Friday.

by | Jul 12, 2023

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. Even before Gov. Reynolds signs the bill, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the Emma Goldman Clinic, and the ACLU of Iowa “have asked a Polk County District judge to temporarily block the law from taking effect, then to hear arguments about whether the law should be permanently blocked.”

Spurred by a June 16th tie vote in the Iowa Supreme Court which left abortion legal up until 20 weeks, pro-life Gov. Kim Reynolds called legislators back for a special legislative session. Yesterday in an emotional marathon, the Heartbeat bill passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 56 to 34 in the House and, four hours later, 32 to 17 in the Senate.

Republicans “advanced the bill through the entire legislative process in just under 15 hours,” according to the Des Moines Register.

The governor said she plans to sign the bill this Friday which will take effect immediately.

“Reynolds’ move to push for abortion restrictions in Iowa comes weeks after Iowa’s Supreme Court declined to lift a block on the state’s 2018 six-week abortion ban, deadlocking in a 3-3 vote whether to overturn a lower court decision that deemed the law unconstitutional,” Shawna Mizelle and Jack Forrest reported for CNN [].

Following the votes, Gov. Reynolds said

“Today, the Iowa legislature once again voted to protect life and end abortion at a heartbeat, with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.

“The Iowa Supreme Court questioned whether this legislature would pass the same law they did in 2018, and today they have a clear answer. The voices of Iowans and their democratically elected representatives cannot be ignored any longer, and justice for the unborn should not be delayed.”

She added  

As a pro-life Governor, I am also committed to continuing policies to support women in planning for motherhood, promote the importance of fatherhood, and encourage strong families. Our state and country will be stronger because of it.”

Pro-life legislators voiced their strong support for the bill. Rep. Shannon Lundgren said, “This bill protects unborn children in Iowa. This bill sets a clear standard where the state has an interest in the life of the child: when the baby’s heart starts beating. Where there is a heartbeat, there is life.”

Rep. Luana Stoltenberg told the House the story of her own three abortions.

“I was told that it was just a blob of tissue, that it was easy and it was safe,” she said. “That was a lie. Those abortions caused me not to be able to have children. Every day I live with the reality that I killed the only children I would ever have.”

Terry Pollard is a pastor at the Des Moines’ Eastside Church of the Nazarene. “Human life is of the greatest value to God, the creator of life,” he said. “And it should be of value to us as moral beings who have life. Life is a gift of God as God is the giver of life. The sanctity of human life gives inviolable and equal value to every life.”

In a July 7 statement, Speaker of the House Pat Grassley said, “Iowans know we will defend life and have grown our majority.”

Needless to say pro-abortion Democrats were uniformly against the Heartbeat Bill.  Representative Elinor Levin argued “No government should ever have the power to force a human to go through a pregnancy and give birth.”

BACKGROUND

When Judge Celene Gogerty declined to reinstate the law, it left in place the 2019 injunction issued by Judge Michael Huppert. Last summer, however, the Iowa Supreme Court reversed its 2018 ruling that there is a fundamental right to abortion under the Iowa Constitution. They did so one week before the United States Supreme Court, in Dobbs, overturned Roe v. Wade.

“With the door opened to reviving the ‘fetal heartbeat’ law, lawyers for Governor Reynolds filed a motion asking the trial court to lift the injunction, arguing that it has the authority to modify or vacate an injunction if there has been a substantial change in the facts or law,” according to Rox Laird of Courthouse News.

In her seventeen page decision, Judge Gogerty, in essence, argued her hands were tied—that she does not have the authority to dissolve the permanent injunction placed on the law by Judge Huppert and allow the law to take effect. Gov. Reynolds promptly appealed that decision, sending the case to the Iowa Supreme Court where the justices were evenly split.

The bill is similar but not identical to the 2018 law.

Categories: State Legislation
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