Saturday, 02 March 2024

Judge blocks Iowa heartbeat law

(LifeNews) An Iowa judge has temporarily blocked the heartbeat law to protect babies from abortions. The legislation will save thousands of lives annually by protecting babies at a point when they have a heartbeat if it is allowed to go into effect fully.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill on Friday (July 14) and a judge allowed it to go into effect until his decision on the request by Big Abortion for an injunction. Today (July 17), Polk County Judge Joseph W. Seidlin temporarily blocked the law while the case moves forward.

That means abortion is once again legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion businesses Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the Emma Goldman Clinic and abortionist Sarah Traxler filed suit to block the law, claiming it would irreparably harm Iowans even though it protects Iowa babies from death.

Iowa officials plan to appeal the ruling and the case will undoubtedly move to the state’s highest court.

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“In their own words, the abortion industry stressed the need for a temporary injunction so they could continue with 200 scheduled abortions in the next two weeks. While Life was protected for a few days, now even more innocent babies will be lost,” the governor said.

“The abortion industry’s attempt to thwart the will of Iowans and the voices of their elected representatives continues today, but I will fight this all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court where we expect a decision that will finally provide justice for the unborn,” Reynolds said.

Tweet This: I will fight this all the way 2the IA Supreme Court where we expect a decision that will finally provide justice 4the unborn - Kim Reynolds

The Iowa General Assembly passed the bill late Tuesday night (July 11) in a special legislative session. The bill passed in a vote of 56 to 34 in the Iowa House and 32 to 17 in the Iowa Senate.

“We praise Governor Kim Reynolds, pro-life members of the Iowa legislature, and pro-life leaders across the state,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “We also praise our Iowa affiliate, Iowa Right to Life, for their hard work in passing this law which will protect unborn children.”

A leading pro-life group told LifeNews is was elated by the governor’s actions. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser celebrated the victory:

“We congratulate Iowa on becoming the 25th state with strong pro-life protections on the books. Just over a year after Dobbs, half the country recognizes the humanity of babies in the womb and their laws reflect it. A beating heart is a vital sign of life and science shows that an unborn baby has more than a 90% chance of survival once his or her heartbeat can be detected. Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature persisted to get the Fetal Heartbeat Act across the finish line, showing their respect for the will of Iowans the people and compassion for mothers and their children. Now, thousands of Iowa’s most vulnerable children will be given the gift of life and a chance to discover their unique purpose in this world.”

Nationwide polls and polling data in states across the nation shows Americans support heartbeat laws to protect babies from abortions.

The governor’s call for the special session to pass the heartbeat law came after the Iowa Supreme Court, on a narrow 3-3 decision, struck down a similiar law the legislature passed before the Dobbs case that would protect the lives of unborn babies who have a detectable heartbeat. The state court’s decision set forth parameters that the legislature could use to pass a new heartbeat law that would be found constitutional and add Iowa to the list of states providing legal protection for unborn children.

If the Iowa Supreme Court upholds the legislation, Iowa would become the 17th state to protect babies either starting at conception or when their heartbeat can be detected at 6 weeks. Another 4 states protect babies starting at 12 or 15 weeks.

The governor said babies need protection from abortion as quickly as possible, which is why she is signing the legislation this week.

“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,” Reynolds said.

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.”

The state’s Senate passed a bill late Tuesday in a 32 to 17 vote and the state House voted 56-34 largely along party lines to advance the measure. In the House, every Democrat voted against the pro-life bill while every Republican in favor except Reps. Mark Cisneros, R-Muscatine, and Zach Dieken, R-Granville. Ten representatives were absent. On the Senate side, one Republican, Sen. Mike Klimesh, voted against the bill, as did all Democrats. All other Republicans voted in favor of the bill. One senator was absent.

The bill includes exceptions for miscarriages, when the life of the pregnant woman is threatened and fetal abnormalities that would result in the infant’s death. It also includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rapes reported within 45 days and incest reported within 140 days.

Maggie DeWitte of the Iowa pro-life group Pulse Life Advocates told LifeNews she was excited by the bill’s passage.

“Today is a monumental day in Iowa. The Heartbeat bill has passed in both chambers and will go to Governor Reynolds for her signature,” she said. “Thank you Governor Reynolds for calling this special session and for our pro-life legislature for acting quickly. We have been waiting since 2018 when our first heartbeat bill was signed into law for Iowa to move forward in protecting the most vulnerable of our society.”

“The day started with a public hearing and ended with debate in both chambers and passage of this bill,” she added. “We are now a step closer to providing equal protection under the law for our pre-born brothers and sisters. And we look forward to the day when all life is valued.”

The bill also makes it clear that it is abortionists who are punished for killing babies not women: the new law is “not to be construed to impose civil or criminal liability on a woman upon whom an abortion is performed in violation of the division.” And the Iowa Board of Medicine will determine how abortionists are disciplined.

Abortion is currently legal up to 20 weeks in Iowa and the new bill would drop that to 6 weeks, when a baby’s heartbeat can be heard on a sonogram.

Reynolds’ office challenged a 2019 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that blocked the law, which protects unborn babies by prohibiting most abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. She hoped the state’s highest court would overturn its previous decision blocking the law in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs allowing states to protect babies from abortions.

Instead, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a 2019 district court ruling that blocked the law. The court has seven members but one justice declined to participate because her former law firm had represented an abortionist.

Justice Thomas Waterman wrote for the three justices who voted to block the pro-life law.

“In our view it is legislating from the bench to take a statute that was moribund when it was enacted and has been enjoined for four years and then to put it in effect,” he said.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Chris Schandevel confirmed that the ruling means Iowa can pass a new heartbeat law protecting babies that might be upheld.

“States have the strongest possible interest in protecting the most fundamental of our human rights—the right to life. Iowans are eager to affirm that life is a human right, which is why the legislature passed the fetal heartbeat law five years ago,” he explained.

“Iowans will surely be disappointed by today’s result, and rightly so. But even the three justices who voted against Iowa’s fetal heartbeat law agreed that the same law, passed again today, might finally be allowed to take effect,’ he told LifeNews. “It is time for the Iowa Legislature to act—once again—to protect life. The legislature should redouble its life-saving efforts to enshrine into law further protections for unborn children. Iowa women deserve the dignity and respect that comes from receiving life-affirming health care—not the abortion industry’s false choice between doing what’s best for the mother and protecting the life of her child.”

“The overturning of Roe v. Wade last year was just the beginning,” Reynolds said. “And since then, we’ve seen some in our movement concede ground to abortion extremists. Not in Iowa and not on my watch.”

She said a child’s right to life is “the most important freedom of all.”

“I will always be front and center in this fight,” Reynolds said. “I will not rest until Iowa’s courts allow the will of the people to finally take effect, until every unborn child has the chance to experience the greatest gift that our Lord endowed upon us: life.”

In 2020, 4,058 abortions were reported in the state, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a historic victory for life and returned the power to legislate abortion to the people. Because of Dobbs v. Jackson, states may protect unborn babies from abortion for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Editor's note: This article was published by LifeNews and is reprinted with permission.

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