Des Moines, Iowa, Mar 1, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- On Wednesday, the Iowa Senate approved a measure 30-20 that would prohibit abortions in the state after a baby’s heartbeat is detected during a pregnancy.
The legislation, Senate File 2281, moves that a physician cannot perform an abortion after a heartbeat has been detected. The measure would require that physicians test women before an abortion to determine the presence of a fetal heartbeat. The bill would make certain exceptions in cases of medical emergencies.
The legislation now moves on to the House of Representatives, which has a Republican majority.
A statement from the the Iowa Catholic Conference said that the state’s bishops “support the life-affirming intent of ‘heartbeat’ abortion legislation such as Senate File 2281.”
“We appreciate legislators for their efforts to advance the protection of unborn children and we remain committed to helping with efforts aimed at resolving questions regarding the bill’s constitutionality,” the statement continued.
During the legislation’s presentation in the Senate, the bill’s sponsor Sen. Amy Sinclair said that the presence of a beating heart is the “indication of another human being’s life,” according to the Des Moines Register.
Fetal heartbeats during pregnancy can be detected around 6-7 weeks of pregnancy.
“Please take a moment with me to reflect on what it means to be human, to be a person with rights, to aggressively defend your own right to life and to defend your reasonable expectation that your government should actively support you and all other individuals with a beating heart in that very same endeavor,” Sinclair said
“Senate File 2281 gets at the very heart and soul of what it means to be an American, of what it means to be a person,” she continued.
Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, a leading opponent of the bill, called the legislation “unfathomable,” saying that “there are no other provisions in Iowa code that say an Iowan cannot access medical care unless it is to prevent death.”
If the bill passes, and a physician did perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat had been detected, the doctor could be criminally charged with a Class D felony and serve upwards of 5 years in prison.
The fetal heartbeat abortion ban was attempted last year by House Republicans, but withdrawn when it failed to gain support. However, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad did sign a bill last year prohibiting most abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy.
“Science shows that life begins at conception,” the Iowa bishops’ statement read.
“May we continue to work together in solidarity on ways to protect vulnerable people, including the unborn.”