The Iowa state senate voted late Thursday to approve a bill making abortion illegal upon the presence of a fetal heartbeat, sending the bill to the senate’s Judiciary Committee, where it will face further scrutiny.
The senate panel voted 2-1 to approve Senate Study Bill 3143, which outlaws abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected upon ultrasound. A heartbeat typically becomes detectable between six and nine weeks gestation. Any doctor who performs or attempts to perform an abortion on a woman after a heartbeat is detected will be charged with a Class D felony and subject to five years in prison and a fine of $750 to $7,500. The bill does however, allow abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. No exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities are included in the bill.
The Iowa house of representatives is currently reviewing a similar bill, H.F. 2163.
“These are human beings,” said state Sen. Amy Sinclair, who chaired the panel, according to the Des Moines Register. “We have the responsibility to offer them the same liberty and the same rights that you and I have,” she added in defense of the legislation. Sinclair recounted that she became pregnant at age 19, and after listening to the heartbeat of her son, realized that the baby inside of her was not simply fetal tissue.
“This may be what our culture is ready for,” subcommittee member Sen. Jason Schultz said. “Stopping a beating heart is never health care.”
Other panel members however, see the bill as an assault on women’s rights rather than a necessary protection of life.
“This bill is dangerous and unconstitutional,” state senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen said. “This bill doesn’t just go after women, it goes after doctors, it goes after girls, it goes after moms, it goes after grandmas, it goes after Iowa families … It is a direct attack on women’s health care across our state.”
“This bill is unconstitutional and it intentionally goes too far,” said a Planned Parenthood Heartland representative, Jamie Burch Elliot, noting that many women do not even realize they are pregnant at six weeks. Elliot regards the bill as an underhanded attempt to stop women from getting abortions altogether.
Iowa currently bans abortion after 20 weeks gestation.
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