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One of the points of contention during Tuesday’s debate on the Heartbeat Bill was the lack of penalties provided in the bill. Republicans acknowledged the bill contained no penalties for violations of the proposed law, instead leaving it up to the Iowa Board of Medicine to create penalties for violations.

The Board of Medicine will have to provide the rules, and the legislature will determine whether or not they are satisfactory. If they are not, the legislature can then work on legislation to create penalties.

It is similar to the 2018 Heartbeat Bill that passed both chambers. But there was another option in 2018.

Senate File 2281, a different version of the Heartbeat Bill, passed the Iowa Senate and included penalties. SF 2281, which passed the Senate 30-20 but was never even given a subcommittee in the Iowa House, said a physician who knowingly and intentionally performs an abortion on a pregnant woman where an unborn child had a detectable fetal heartbeat and there was no medical emergency would be guilty of a Class D felony.

A physician charged or indicted for violating the law may have requested a hearing before the Board of Medicine to determine whether a medical emergency existed that necessitated the baby being killed.

Instead, the legislature passed Senate File 359. That bill, like the one passed on Tuesday, did not contain any penalties.

Tuesday’s bill also included “broad exceptions,” according to Republican State Rep. Shannon Lundgren, who floor managed the bill.


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