Both sides react to passage of fetal heartbeat abortion bill

Published: May. 2, 2018 at 5:41 PM CDT
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Iowa lawmakers have approved the most restrictive abortion law in the country and now it's heading to the governor's desk.

The Senate debated the measure for several hours early this morning before coming to a vote. The House had approved the bill just hours earlier.

The bill would prohibit doctors from performing abortions after they've detected fetal heartbeats in pregnant women.

The bill is generating strong opinions on both sides.

Dubuque County Right to Life believes the fetal heartbeat bill passed by Iowa legislators could save many lives.

Executive Director Ashley Stackis says while they're happy this bill might be passed by Gov. Reynolds, she would prefer to see an outright ban on abortions.

The bill has exceptions for rape, incest or if the child's life is in danger.

She says the organization believes life begins at conception and that a child is a child no matter how it was conceived.

Stackis says she does not think this bill takes away women's rights.

"It's not about just the woman's choice. I think morals and doing the right thing is more important than how we want to live," she said.

She says there are organizations in Dubuque that can help women through unexpected pregnancies.

Right to Life considers themselves an education center and connects women to those resources.

This is a divisive issue and those opposed to the bill are also reacting.

Iowa City’s Emma Goldman Clinic calls the vote a disappointment. It’s urging the community to contact Governor Reynolds and ask her to veto the bill.

“Women should have their legal right to safe abortion, they should be able to determine when to have children, how many children to have, and how to space those children,” Director of Health Services Francine Thompson said. “We think that the ban is extreme and intrusive and if governor Reynolds does sign it into law it will be the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation.”

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland called the vote “disgusting”.

It is unconstitutional, it is dangerous, and it is incredibly unpopular," Director of Public Affairs Erin Davison-Rippey said. "Iowans do not want this, and we will hold folks accountable for the actions that they take."

We also reached out to Republican Representative Lee Hein, who is one of three republicans who voted “No” Tuesday night.

He released his this letter explaining his vote:

This week we ran Senate File 359 known as the Heartbeat bill. It is a passionate issue and constituents on both sides have been contacting me. I believe life starts at conception. I also believe it is very a moral, religious, and most of all, should be a family decision. I firmly believe government should be neutral in this very personal issue, and that the family should be able to make the decision.

I did not support this bill and would like to share with you how I reached my position on this issue. Our family recently had to make that very tough decision that affects the life of the mother. My daughter informed us back in January that we were to be grandparents for a second time.

The week before Easter, she had an ultrasound which detected issues with the baby. There still was a heartbeat. After some testing and additional ultrasounds and a CVS test, the doctor informed her that the baby had a chromosome abnormality. The missing chromosome in a baby’s DNA usually causes a miscarriage at some time during the pregnancy; some go to term but are stillborn. Only one percent survives, but these are babies that did not have the same health issues that the ultrasounds were showing. She was told that she would miscarry at some point in the pregnancy but they could not tell her when.

When you get a diagnosis like that, everyone does some soul searching. I believe it becomes a family issue and a family decision. I have been a part of those discussions. Believe you me, my family shed a lot of tears and the decision was not taken lightly. Our daughter and her husband made the decision to terminate pregnancy with the support of our family.

Medical technology has come a long way. It gives us information to support both sides of this issue. I have supported the 20 week legislation, waiting periods for abortions, and defunding Planned Parenthood. They were the right decisions to protect life. But in our situation, government was not a part of the equation and it allowed us to make a family decision that I believe protected life in our family. I pray every day that God will bring more life to our family and I believe he will in the future.

SF 359 in its original form did not allow for families the option to make this decision. I could not support the legislation that did not give families that option and cause a woman to carry the baby to term knowing the outcome. An amendment did make some exceptions but I chose to keep the current law that would allow the families to make decision.

Life is precious and we need to do everything we can to encourage it but I believe we need to have some options also.