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A few days ago, a constituent upset by my pro-life position suggested that I was being simplistic in my approach. Simplistic, meaning that I am dumbing down the issue of abortion to make it easier to solve. That made me think – am I in fact dumbing down the issue of abortion by being pro-life?

In 2018 I supported the heartbeat bill that became law but was not allowed to go into effect by the Iowa Supreme Court. I supported this legislation because both science and my faith convince me that life begins at conception.

Science gives us great insight into the development of our children during pregnancy:

It tells us that an unborn child has a unique DNA code from the very moment of conception.

It tells us that by 21 to 25 days the baby’s HEART is beating.

It tells us that by the sixth week tiny fingers have appeared, followed shortly by toes. By the seventh week the baby has individual fingerprints, and no two sets of fingerprints are ever the same.

It tells us that spontaneous movements begin at seven weeks and that brain waves have been recorded by EEG (electro- encephalograph) in an unborn child 40 days after fertilization. Unborn children of five weeks have been seen moving away from an object touching the area around the mouth.

It tells us that nine weeks after conception the baby is well enough formed to bend his or her fingers. At 12 weeks the unborn child can close fingers and thumbs.

It tells us that brain and nerve fibers must be functioning for anyone to feel pain, and the brain cells which are essential for consciousness in an adult are known to be present in an unborn child by 10 weeks. Nerve fibers which transmit pain impulses are known to be present before fibers inhibiting pain are completed. According to scientific studies of the available evidence, this suggests that the unborn child in the first trimester may be more susceptible to pain than slightly older subjects. In other words, if the baby can experience pain before the body’s mechanisms to suppress pain have developed, the baby might be able to feel pain at a much earlier stage than was previously believed, and perhaps even more acutely in the first three months of pregnancy.

At 11 weeks from conception science shows that our unborn children start to swallow. They can also accomplish detailed facial expressions and even smile. Thumb-sucking has also been recorded in our unborn children.

There is evidence that at four months from conception our unborn children respond to sound. They hear their mother’s beating heart and noises from the outside world, such as music or the sound of their parents’ voices. Studies show it is possible to contact our unborn children via music. One study I reviewed suggested that putting Vivaldi on the record player would relax even the most agitated baby.

Our unborn children learn their mothers’ voices while in the womb. Studies even suggest unborn children recognize stories which are read to them in the womb.

From the sixteenth week science shows our unborn children respond to light.

Science tells us that development continues at a rapid pace after 5 months. Our unborn children often move to get more comfortable. Head hair, eyebrows. eyelashes and nails are growing.

The science is overwhelming; what is detailed here only scratches the surface of the evidence showing when life begins. In addition to science, my position is informed by my faith. Psalm 139 tells me, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

“Simplistic” is dumbing down a problem, while “simple” is defined as something that is not complicated and is easy to understand. Given the science I have reviewed, and the words found in my Bible, I believe that while my position is based on simple and profound scientific and faith-based truth, it is anything but simplistic. The ignoring of the facts of human development in order to support abortion seems to me to be the simplistic approach to this issue.

While I will continue work to go even further to protect unborn children from the moment of conception, I believe it is a strong step forward to protect the unborn once a heartbeat is detected. We measure the end of life with the absence of a heartbeat, why should we not take a monumental step forward and protect life when there is a heartbeat present?

I also believe that passing heartbeat legislation similar to what we passed in 2018 is a proper response to the egregious Iowa Supreme Court ruling a few weeks ago that did not allow our 2018 law to go into effect for procedural reasons, suggesting we were passing “hypothetical” laws. The Court also suggested we might not be able to pass heartbeat legislation again, conjecture that had no place in such a decision. Justice McDonald was spot on in his dissent, “When a case adjudging a statute unconstitutional is overruled, the statute becomes operative without reenactment. This has been ‘well settled’ law in this state for more than a century. There is no ‘legal uncertainty’ under Iowa law; there is only my colleagues’ refusal to apply ‘well settled’ Iowa law.”

In the Special Session that convenes Tuesday July 11th, I will vote to protect our precious unborn children once a heartbeat is detected. Simple but powerful truth: Life begins at conception.

Author: Steven Holt


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