Fetal heartbeat bill sent to Iowa Senate floor as packed crowd cheers

Fetal heartbeat bill sent to Iowa Senate floor as packed crowd cheers
Bill to Change Iowa Supreme Court Rule Advances in Senate
nDES MOINES — Business groups argued the pros and cons of legislation that cleared a Senate subcommittee Monday and that backers say is designed to bring Iowa in line with federal standards in providing them religious-freedom protections.

Members of a Senate Local Government subcommittee voted 2-1 to approve a bill that would provide a claim or defense to a person whose exercise of freedom is substantially burdened by government action. Senate Study Bill 3171 could create a “strict scrutiny test” for the courts to use in such cases.

Bill to Change Iowa Supreme Court Rule Advances in Senate
Bill to Change Iowa Supreme Court Rule Advances in Senate

Bill to Change Iowa Supreme Court Rule Advances in Senate

Small business owners Dick and Betty Odgaard said current state law provided them no protection when a gay couple asked them to make their facilities available for a same-sex wedding and reception that went counter to their religious beliefs.

Fetal Heartbeat Bill Moves Step Closer to Becoming Law

“It’s not to take rights or freedom away from anybody,” Dick Odgaard told the panel. “It’s to restore ours. Our system is very tilted.”

“I understand the feelings behind it, and why some people might want to move in this direction,” Schneider said. “But to me, I can very easily see this working against people for the same reasons they’re supporting it now.”

However, representatives of large companies, such as Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group, warned passage of the religious-freedom legislation would have a “chilling effect” on Iowa companies that conduct international business and to recruit skilled workers to Iowa.

Anti-abortion bill passes Iowa Senate committee

In addition, Des Moines business leaders worried legislative action could jeopardize the city’s ability to qualify as a 2019 NCAA regional basketball site or land other major conventions.

Bill would ban most abortions in Iowa after pregnancy’s 6th week

“States that have gone down this road have had economic duress,” said John Stineman, executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance.

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But Burlington Baptist minister Brad Cranston said 21 states have similar laws on the books and the federal standards date back to legislation signed by President Bill Clinton that “doesn’t pick winners and losers” but merely provides guidelines to the courts in cases in which people follow the dictates of their faith.

“I think an assault on the right of Iowa’s women. I have personally have had an abortion and it would have ruined my life and that child would’ve had a horrible life if they had been born. This is just a necessary thing,” said Des Moines resident Caroline Schoonover.

“This argument is worth having if we’re going to preserve our way of life,” said Sen. Dennis Guth, R-Klemme, in supporting the measure. But Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, advised a go-slow approach to altering Iowa civil rights statutes that he said have worked effectively for years.

“Any of us that are strong in the pro life movement understand that not only will this save lives, babies, the long goal is to throw this back into the courts and start the run at R v. Wade,” said Sen. Rick Bertand (R-Sioux City).

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) — A state Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday advanced a controversial bill banning abortion as early as six weeks, to cheers from anti-abortion Iowans.

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Under current Iowa law, a court is not required to apply “heightened scrutiny” when reviewing a law that burdens a person’s exercise of religion. The bill provides that a court shall apply “heightened scrutiny” in such cases, so that the state’s action cannot “substantially burden” a person’s exercise of religion. An exception would occur when applying the law is linked to a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
Fetal Heartbeat Bill Moves Step Closer to Becoming Law
Fetal Heartbeat Bill Moves Step Closer to Becoming Law

State senators go back and forth over abortion and Planned Parenthood issues as subcommittee members consider “fetal heartbeat” legislation at the Iowa Capitol, which would ban most abortions in Iowa. Rodney White/The Register

Dick and Betty Odgaard, the former owners of the Gortz Haus Gallery in Grimes, were the first to testify in support of the bill. They said they were forced to close their business in 2015 after they turned down a request by a same-sex couple to have a wedding at their establishment, which served as a marriage venue. They said they acted because of their religious beliefs that marriage is a holy sacrament.

Legislation banning nearly all abortions in Iowa after a fetal heartbeat is detected was approved by the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday night after a brief debate focusing on women’s access to health care versus the rights of the unborn.

Idaho Senate Passes Groundbreaking Bill to Inform Women How Their Abortions Can be Reversed

A packed meeting room at the Iowa Capitol erupted in cheers from Christian conservatives after Senate Study Bill 3143 was advanced on an 8-5 vote.  All the yes votes were by Republicans. All the no votes were by Democrats.

Senate Study Bill 3171 was approved on a 2-1 vote, sending it to the Senate Local Government Committee. Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola, who heads the committee, said it has a good chance of advancing further this week and being sent to the Senate floor.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor, where it will be eligible for debate the remainder of the 2018 legislative session.

“The goal of this is to protect the lives of all Iowans, especially those who are the most vulnerable and cannot speak up  for themselves,” said Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton.

Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, opposed the bill. She charged that Republicans don’t care about women’s ability to access good health care. She also warned such legislation will discourage doctors from practicing in Iowa and she said it will result in Iowa losing its only medical residency program to train obstetricians/gynecologists.

Rekha Basu: Iowa lawmakers play God with women’s lives in fetal heartbeat anti-abortion bill

But even if the Iowa Senate passes the death penalty bill this session, it’s uncertain whether it can win approval in the House. House Public Safety Committee Chairman Rep. Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield, recently said there is not enough support to advance expansive capital punishment legislation under House Study Bill 569.

The legislation provides that except for a medical emergency, a physician could not perform an abortion in Iowa unless a pregnant woman has been tested to determine if a fetal heartbeat is detectable.

Iowa abolished the death penalty in 1965. Except for the debate in the 1990s, lawmakers have since generally accepted the idea that Iowa will not execute inmates. That’s meant that people convicted of first-degree murder and given life sentences in recent years have rarely been granted clemency by the state’s governors.

A doctor who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected and without a medical emergency could be charged with a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. However, a pregnant woman who obtains an abortion would not be held criminally liable.

Sinclair thanked someone in the crowd for giving a seat to her daughter-in-law, whom she described as being pregnant with her grandson. She described abortion as a “barbaric choice” that involves the taking of a life.

Petersen called the bill dangerous, adding that it redefines a medical emergency. She cautioned that if the bill is enacted into state law that Iowa taxpayers will be on the hook for legal expenses “for a bill that you know is unconstitutional.”

Under the legislation, a medical emergency means a situation in which an abortion is performed to preserve the life of the pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy. However, a medical emergency would not include psychological conditions, emotional conditions, family conditions or the woman’s age.

Anti-abortion groups hit legislative milestone as 'heartbeat bill' advances
Anti-abortion groups hit legislative milestone as ‘heartbeat bill’ advances

Supporters of reproductive rights have been highly critical of the proposed legislation, which follows action by the Legislature last year to ban most abortions after 20 weeks and to block public funding for family planning services to clinics that provide abortion.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which had supporters at Monday night’s committee meeting, has condemned both Senate and House bills aimed at restricting abortions, describing them as “the latest move in extreme lawmakers’ anti-women, anti-choice agenda.”

Christian conservatives have been elated at the advancement of the fetal heartbeat bill and they turned out in large numbers at the Senate committee meeting. They were urged to attend in an email sent Friday by Bob Vander Plaats, president and chief executive of The Family Leader.

“This bill would save thousands of babies in Iowa each year!” Vander Plaats wrote.

Posted in Des Moines