DES MOINES, Iowa – Multiple sources told The Iowa Torch, and then a tweet by a state representative confirmed that the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds plan to re-enact during next Tiuesday’s special session the same fetal heartbeat abortion ban considered by the Iowa Supreme Court in June.
“I applaud Governor @KimReynoldsIA for calling the Iowa legislature back to Des Moines for a special session to pass the Fetal Heartbeat law,” State Rep. Austin Harris, R-Moulton, said in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon that has since been deleted. “On Tuesday, I will be casting my vote to protect the unborn.”
The Iowa Supreme Court issued a 3-3 opinion regarding the six-week abortion ban, and failing to reach a majority due to the recusal of Justice Dana Oxley kept the District Court injunction of the law in place.
Justice Thomas Waterman asserted, in an opinion for the three justices who believed the injunction should remain, that when the fetal heartbeat abortion ban passed in 2018, the Iowa Legislature enacted a “hypthetical law” since it “no chance of taking effect” since it was passed before the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Joined by Chief Justice Susan Christensen and Justice Edward Mansfield, Waterman pointed out that the Iowa Legislature not reenacting the fetal heartbeat abortion ban last session following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs opinion as evidence backing his claim.
State legislators insist that the law was not hypothetical.
“I believe that life should be protected from conception until natural death. I was in full support of the heartbeat bill when it passed in 2018. We measure the end of life by the absence of a heartbeat, and I think it makes sense to protect life once a heartbeat is detected. The law we passed in 2018 had exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother,” State Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison, the Iowa House Judiciary Committee Chair, said in a text to The Iowa Torch when we reached out after the tweet by Harris.
“While I support going even further to protect life, I believe that once again passing the heartbeat bill in special session is a monumental step forward in the fight for life in Iowa, considering that the court failed in its opinion to rule on the constitutionality of the actual law,” he added.
“I look forward to voting for life in special session, and ending any and all arguments as to whether the 2018 law we passed was ‘hypothetical,’ as the court suggested,” Holt concluded. “Unborn lives matter.”