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The Republican-controlled Iowa legislature completed its special session in one day on Tuesday, passing a new Heartbeat Bill after the courts prevented the 2018 version from ever being enacted. Tuesday’s bill passed the Senate 32-17, with only Republican Sen. Mike Klimesh joining the Democrats in opposition. It passed the House 56-34. Republican Representatives Zach Dieken and Mark Cisneros both voted no because the bill didn’t go far enough.

Six other Republicans were not present for the vote.

Senator Amy Sinclair managed the bill in that chamber. She challenged the idea that this is a “rushed process,” instead saying it has been more like a five-year process as the content of the bill is “identical” to what is already in Iowa Code.

“Nothing in here has changed,” she said. “It’s the same contents that have been law for five years. I would suggest perhaps it has gone on too long.”

The bill will prohibit a physician from performing an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected during an abdominal ultrasound unless there is a medical emergency, rape reported within 45 days, incest reported within 140 days, a miscarriage or a fetal anomaly incompatible with life.

Democrat State Sen. Janice Weiner said the process has been rushed since many members of the legislature are new. She also said the legal landscape is “entirely different” than it was in 2018.

“This will place, if passed today, an undue burden on Iowa’s women and families and we need to look at it through those eyes,” she said.

Republican State Rep. Shannon Lundgren managed the bill through the House. In committee, she said the bill protects unborn children in Iowa and the bill sets a “clear standard” that the state has interest in the life of a baby when the heart is beating.

The bill does not contain any penalties and instead leaves those in the hands of the Board of Medicine. Dennis Tibben is currently the executive director of the Iowa Board of Medicine. Tibben is a former regional organizer for Planned Parenthood.

Republican State Rep. Steve Holt said the rules will come to the legislature for approval and must comply with the law. If the legislature does not like the rules the Board of Medicine writes, it can delay those rules and instead pass legislation specifically telling them what to do to enforce the policy properly.

“This will be carefully monitored,” Holt said. “This is a massive step forward in the fight for the unborn, but the fight is far from over.”

Dieken and Cisneros are both staunch conservatives. Dieken explained his opposition to the bill in this article. Cisneros said the bill is more “political theater and unnecessary compromise.”

“This bill language is a slow pitch softball for the Democrats to run the bases of obfuscation in the courts,” he wrote. “Complicating the effort to protect human lives in future legislation. Don’t be fooled by the ‘shiny’ title of the bill. The devil is in the details. Life begins at conceptions and ends at natural death.”

Author: Jacob Hall


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