". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


‘A Future and a Hope’: Iowa Enacts Heartbeat Law Protecting Babies at 6 Weeks

July 16, 2023

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) quoted the Bible as she signed a bill protecting most unborn children from abortion beginning when doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat, usually at six weeks.

“We read in Scripture that the Author of life wants to give a future and a hope to all his children,” said Reynolds at the signing ceremony Friday afternoon, alluding to the Book of Jeremiah. “Who are we to stand in His way?” The newly enshrined rights, she said, represent “an ironclad commitment to the smallest and most vulnerable among us: All life is precious and worthy of the protection of our laws.”

It is the second time the swing state of Iowa has enacted a heartbeat law. In 2018, Reynolds signed a nearly identical bill specifying that similar protections would take effect the moment the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, as it did last June. After the Dobbs decision, a lower court sided with abortionists against the law, and the Iowa Supreme Court deadlocked 3-3 on June 16. Their opinion held that legislators had passed a “hypothetical law,” and voters might feel differently in post-Dobbs America.

“They were wrong,” said Reynolds. “The Iowa legislature voted for a second time to reject the inhumanity of abortion and pass the fetal heartbeat bill.”

Reynolds called the legislature back into a special session to pass House File 723, which prohibits any abortionist from ending a baby’s life once “unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat.” The law allows abortions until 20 weeks for rape, incest, or if the child receives a diagnosis of a condition purported to be “incompatible with life.” Abortions deemed necessary due to medical emergency, to save the mother’s life from a physical condition that poses “a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” may be carried out for the duration of the pregnancy.

Pro-life leaders praised Reynolds’s determination. “Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa legislature persisted to get the Fetal Heartbeat Act across the finish line, showing their respect for the will of Iowans, and compassion for mothers and their children,” said Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement emailed to The Washington Stand. “Now, thousands of Iowa’s most vulnerable children will be given the gift of life and a chance to discover their unique purpose in this world.”

Reynolds also celebrated on social media shortly afterwards. “The Heartbeat bill is now the law of the land!” the governor stated on Twitter. “Despite the abortion industry’s best attempts, Iowa is protecting the most innocent and defenseless lives.”

At least four other states have codified pro-life heartbeat protections into law: Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and South Carolina. Others, including Kentucky and Missouri, passed heartbeat laws that courts struck down by citing then-operative Roe. Both now join roughly a dozen states protect most unborn lives beginning at the moment of fertilization.

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) introduced the Heartbeat Protection Act early this legislative session.

While support varies based on the wording used, multiple polls over the last few years have found a majority of Americans support protecting unborn children once the undeniable sign of life, a heartbeat, has begun.

Such laws respect the unalienable rights given by God and recognized by the U.S. Constitution, legal experts say. “Every person has an inalienable right to life. The blood of more than 63 million children brutally aborted since Roe v. Wade will forever be a stain on our nation,” said Liberty Counsel Founder and President Mat Staver. “Our attitude and actions respecting human life will determine our destiny.”

Reynolds signed the lifesaving protections, again, at the Family Leadership Summit, hosted by the pro-life group, The Family Leader. On Friday, multiple Republican presidential hopefuls held their first roundtable discussion, and moderated by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The strategic location helped shine “a spotlight in the 2024 race,” according to Students for Life Action President Kristan Hawkins. But Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison denounced the new lifesaving law as “a cruel abortion ban” signed “among a crowd of extremists.”

The pro-life triumph was “all made possible by Donald Trump and the conservative justices he appointed who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Harrison noted.

Carlson asked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (D) if he would sign a similar Heartbeat protection bill into law if elected president.

“Of course, I want to sign pro-life legislation” as president, DeSantis replied.

All Democrats in the state legislature voted against the bill, according to the Des Moines Register — a move that Reynolds said emphasized their abortion extremism. “With almost no exceptions, Democrats believe in abortion on demand up until the very moment of birth,” she said. “For the media here today: if you think I’m wrong, just ask them.”

Although polls show a flimsy minority of voters siding with such a position, “many presidential hopefuls have been unable to commit to protecting life in law and service at the federal level,” noted Hawkins.

“We challenge them to consider the proven sign of life beating in the womb and make a commitment to protect it.”

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.