On Tuesday the Iowa Legislature passed the Heartbeat Bill for the second time. The bill is a simple one that prohibits the use of abortion or abortifacients once a heartbeat is detected in an unborn baby. The concept is a simple one, life at its end is determined by the absence of a heartbeat and so, life at its beginning should be determined by the same thing, a heartbeat. Often a heartbeat can be detected around 6 or 7 weeks, but it is very identifiable.
The bill protects the baby except in the case of rape and incest or the health of a mother. So, if a mother’s health is at risk, then an abortion is allowed. The heartbeat bill specifically states that at the time of no heartbeat being detected, there is no longer a prohibition on abortion from occurring. The medical emergency exception is extremely broad to also include if there is a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman. There is nothing in this bill that criminalizes health care.
Why is this important? Let me tell you a story of a real girl but I am going to change her name and the name of her adopted parents who I will call the Smiths. The real girl’s fictional name is Samantha, and we will call her Sami. As the Speaker Pro Tem of the Iowa Legislature, I often will open the day by gaveling in, introducing the person conducting the prayer for the day and the person leading the pledge of allegiance. One day the Smiths reached out to me in the hallway of the Capitol and said, they would like to introduce me to someone special and her name is Sami. They told me the following story:
Sami’s birth mother was 17 when she found out that she was pregnant with Sami. Sami’s birth mother wanted an abortion but according to state law, a minor cannot get an abortion without parental permission. Sami’s parents would not give the permission to have an abortion.
Sami’s birth mother turned 18 years old and decided then she was going to have an abortion and went to the abortion center but the doctor there determined that Sami was over the 20-week abortion ban age and therefore would not provide the abortion. Along the way, Sami’s adoptive parents, the Smiths, found out about the situation and approached the birth mother and asked her if they took care of her and the pregnancy and if they could adopt Sami. An agreement was reached and when Sami was born, she was adopted into her new family, the Smiths.
On the day that I met Sami, I was overtaken by the story, and I was on the way to gavel the House into session for the day. Sami, who was around 4 years old at the time was an energetic and enthusiastic young gal with a spark for life. On a whim, I asked the Smiths, if I could take Sami onto the Speaker’s Podium and have her lead the pledge of allegiance for the day. They said sure you can. And so, Sami with her hand in mine went up to the speaker’s podium and she sat very nicely in the chair and waited patiently as I gaveled and introduced the prayer and her as the leader of the pledge of allegiance.
The prayer was given and Sami, this sweet little innocent child walked up to the microphone and said I pledge allegiance, and the entire House of about 150 people started into the pledge of allegiance following Sami’s lead. Once we were done with that, I led Sami back to her parents and thanked them for the opportunity to do that. I was told in return that in part, my yes vote on the 20-week abortion ban is why Sami was here that day to lead the pledge of allegiance. There are other Sami’s out there because of that bill and my vote. With the Heartbeat bill that was done just a few short days ago, there will be a lot more Samis.
I believe that Sami will do great things in her life. Many people that day had no clue who Sami was or why a four-year-old was leading the pledge of allegiance but there she was as a 4-year-old leading 150 people. Having survived being aborted, Sami has a great outlook on life and is surrounded by a loving and caring family. She will be a success in life and has great things ahead of her and I am forever thankful for the opportunity to be a small part of that.