The Republican-led Iowa House has voted to require doctors to offer women seeking an abortion the opportunity to see an ultrasound image and hear the heartbeat of the fetus. The bill passed on a 57-39 vote after several hours of debate today.
“It is my belief that we are defending two lives here, both a mother and a child,” Representative Joel Fry, a Republican from Osceola, said to open the debate. “…It’s my attempt, my desire to bring to the forefront that one that is often not heard.”
Senator Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, opposed the bill.
“I’m tired of the government thinking they need to tell the 1.5 million…Iowa women what to do,” Steckman said.
Representative Sandy Salmon, a Republican from Janesville, voted for the bill.
“The woman will have the opportunity to get more full knowledge about the reality of the unborn baby growing inside her,” Salmon said. “Our hope is that with this knowledge she will choose to honor that baby’s right to live.”
Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, argued expanding access to family planning services was a better answer.
“This proposed bill is just another effort by some lawmakers to shame a woman who has made a difficult decision to end her pregnancy,” Mascher said.
Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, said hearing the heartbeat and seeing the sonogram will help the woman make a “fully informed decision.”
“Movement stops. The heartbeat falls silent. The miracle ends,” Holt said. “Those are the consequences of abortion that should be demonstrated.”
Representative Timi Brown-Powers, a Democrat from Waterloo, responded: “We’re not the doctor. We’re not that patient. We don’t even know the circumstances. If a woman is raped, Representative Holt, is that really a miracle?”
Critics say the bill will force physicians to perform a more invasive ultrasound as most abortions occur in the early stages of a pregnancy when a traditional ultrasound image cannot be obtained.
The legislation is unlikely to be debated in the Iowa Senate, where Democrats control a majority of seats.