According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) signed Senate File 359 – known as the “Heartbeat” bill - into law, making it the strictest abortion law in the nation.
Under this legislation, physicians will be barred from performing most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Experts say a baby’s heartbeat can be heard as early as six weeks into a pregnancy which is often before women even realize they are pregnant.
After adding exceptions for rape, incest and congenital abnormalities, the bill passed through the Republican-controlled legislature with the House voting 51-46 for passage and the Senate following suit with a 29-17 vote after a debate that stretched into the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
The bill, which will take effect on July 1, then headed to the desk of Republican Governor Kim Reynolds who signed it into law on Friday afternoon.
“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,” the governor said.
“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.”
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa have already announced plans to challenge the law.
This battle will be hard fought, especially because the Supreme Court has declined to hear similar cases in recent years. However, President Donald J. Trump has appointed a number of conservative federal judges to the lower courts since his election which is leaving abortion opponents very optimistic.
And because the case would take three to four years to make its way to the Supreme Court, court watchers believe Trump will have a chance to replace at least one more Justice, thus tipping the high court in favor of judges who could overturn Roe v Wade.
"There’s a real decent chance that we’re going to wind up with another justice or two to tilt the balance a little bit, and we need to have a case in the pipeline," said Martin Cannon, senior counsel for the Thomas More Society, to the Register.
This bill may well be the case that overturns Roe but it will be an uphill battle for sure; however, according to Iowa Right to Life, the state’s Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders has already received commitments from two national and conservative law firms to represent Iowa in upcoming court battles – all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary – and at no cost to the state of Iowa.
This will be a challenge, but the prolife faithful have never cowered from this fight. With prayer and the grace of God, this is just one more contest to be waged and won.
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