Fourth District Congressman Steve King has played a major role in efforts to defend the unborn throughout his tenure in the United States House of Representatives. Iowa’s Heartbeat bill was no exception.
“This essentially is the same bill that I drafted out here and introduced at the congressional level,” King said. “We ended up with 174 cosponsors on it before the end of the session. We did Taylor the Iowa bill and wrote it directly to challenge Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. We put language in there specifically out of Doe v. Bolton because we wanted to get it to the federal Supreme Court and require them to deal with that language.”
While the bill passed through the Iowa Senate with ease, the Iowa House was another story.
“I know I worked seven weeks to try to get the votes put together to pass the Heartbeat bill,” King said. “I have a spreadsheet yet in my iPhone that analyzed everybody in the House who had a chance of voting for it and what their argument might’ve been in reluctance. We addressed all their arguments. In the last weekend the last three votes were brought in, I believe, by (Speaker of the House) Linda Upmeyer. I tip my hat there.”
Naturally, when he learned on Tuesday that a judge in Des Moines granted the motion for summary judgment, King was not pleased.
“I’m incredibly disappointed,” he said. “I want to encourage the governor to just give the nod to go ahead and appeal this thing all the way to the state Supreme Court. It’s not going to cost the taxpayers. We knew all along we wouldn’t be successful at the first level or the second level. We need to litigate this thing all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court and look for a way to get out of the Iowa court and into federal court where we now have a 5-4 constitutionalist majority in the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We’re not going to let up. This is a very important piece to the overall puzzle.”
It is also an obvious next step, since the state wouldn’t be on the hook for the cost of defending the law.
“When we got pushback from state legislators, it was they didn’t want to waste money defending a case,” King said. “We went to work and found two entities that would do it pro bono. The one that ended up defending it is the Thomas More Society. We were able to guarantee that it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer to defend this.”
Equal protection and due process, two terms used in the court’s ruling, seemed to be used in all the wrong ways, King said.
“Well, equal protection has always been an ungrounded concept,” King said. “Who doesn’t get equal protection? The baby. Everybody else had equal protection. If the equal protection argument were applied, they’d uphold the Heartbeat law.
“They argued that the 72-hour waiting bill that the court overturned in June of 2018 violates due process. Due process analysis is that there has to be a sound state reason in order to delay an abortion for 72 hours. The state has to have compelling interest. The court ruled the state didn’t have a compelling interest and extrapolated due process into the Heartbeat bill.
“The state has a compelling interest in protecting the lives of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death. That’s as compelling of an interest as you can find.”
Regardless of result, King said it is imperative for pro-life leaders in Iowa to continue the fight to save the Heartbeat bill.
“Every time we debate this, every time we litigate it, whether it’s upheld or not, it saves lives because it informs people about how precious human life is,” King said. “I just encourage the governor — all she needs to do is give the directive and the St. Thomas More Foundation will do the action. We’ve come this far, we should not give up easy. We should take this to the end. Other states will be passing similar legislation. We have a chance to get this to the United States Supreme Court. That’s been our objective from the beginning.
“I’m ready for this battle for the long run, I hope she is too.”
As for the fact that the court ruling came out on Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, that drew scrutiny as well.
“There are no coincidences in politics or in law,” King said. “What they did in announcing this thing on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade or right at or near it is the equivalent of Barack Obama lighting up the White House with rainbow colors after the Obergefell decision.”