“Life is an important topic to Iowans,” House Speaker Linda Upmeyer told reporters late this afternoon. “We hear that at the doors, at forums, so this is another opportunity to pass a bill, perhaps, that is a pro-life bill and we’ll see where it goes.”
Earlier this year, the Republican-led Iowa Senate passed a bill that would ban nearly all abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. Democrats like Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell of Ames say the “fetal heartbeat” proposal that’s been proposed in a House committee would ban abortions after a pregnancy’s fifth or sixth week, before some women realize they are pregnant.
“The extreme legislation would make most safe, legal abortions illegal in Iowa,” Wessel-Kroeschell said during a news conference at the statehouse.
The bill does not grant exceptions if a pregnancy is the result of a rape or incest, nor would a woman be able to have an abortion if tests show the fetus has severe abnormalities.
“Clearly, we are very concerned,” Wessel-Kroeschell said. “…This an all-out assault on women and a sneak attack from Republicans at the last minute.”
This Friday is the deadline for an abortion policy bill to clear the House Human Resources Committee. Democrats on the committee vow to meet in private all night to review the bill and give the public a chance to contact lawmakers to share their opinions.
According to Upmeyer, her fellow Republicans on the committee have the authority to call for a vote at any time on the fetal heartbeat proposal. And Upmeyer said compared to the idea of passing an abortion ban based on the moment of conception, an abortion ban based on the time a heartbeat can be detected is an easier concept.
“You know when that point in time is,” Upmeyer said.
Democrats say court challenges in two other states have derailed similar abortion bans that were based on the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Upmeyer said Republicans on the House committee at least want the proposal considered. She indicated there’s been no vote count yet to determine if the proposal could pass the House.