BY PHONG LY
The Iowa Senate approved legislation on Feb. 28 that would prevent physicians from performing abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The measure was approved 30-20 and then headed to the House of Representatives, where it faces an uncertain future.
On March 15, there was a hearing centered on the proposed bill at the Iowa Capitol. The hearing came at the request of Democrats on the House Human Resources Committee. The committee voted 12-9 for the “fetal heartbeat” amendment.
Paige McCaslin, a biology major at Drake, hopes this bill doesn’t become law because she thinks it will be taking away a lot of women’s rights.
“Abortion is something that I believe women should have the choice to have,” McCaslin said. “If they make it illegal, a lot of people will then resolve to unsafe abortion, which could cost them their lives.”
According to The Cedar Rapids Gazette, the sponsor of this bill, Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, said this bill gets at the very heart and soul of what it means to be an American and what it means to be a person.
The legislation says that, except in cases of medical emergency, a physician cannot perform an abortion in Iowa unless a pregnant woman has been tested to determine if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. A heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
“This bill makes it almost impossible for people to get an abortion because a lot of the time a heartbeat can start very early, and a lot of the time that is before a woman even knows that (she is) pregnant,” McCaslin said.
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 and punished with up to five years of imprisonment and a $7,500 fine. There would be no penalty for the woman.
Michael Cooper, an actuarial science major at Drake, believes abortion is just a way for people to not have to deal with the consequences of their bad choices.
“People ought to learn from their life decisions, the baby should not be killed just because of the lack of discipline of the person that now is bearing them,” Cooper said. “Two wrongs do not make a right.”
Cooper calls himself a “miracle child.” He said that he was projected to be diagnosed with autism during his mother’s pregnancy and that his birth could have been fatal to both himself and his mom.
“My parents wanted me regardless of me having autism or not,” Cooper said. “I was their child and their responsibility because I had my own heartbeat. I am alive today, and I have blessed this world tremendously with talents, love and compassion.”
He believes that it is no one’s prerogative to declare there is no hope for a child in entering the world.
“Where there is a beating heart, there is life, and where there is life, there is always hope,” Cooper said.
On the other hand, first-year Azal Ashfaq is not in favor of the proposed bill. She said the bill is implying that women are not smart or educated enough to know what’s good for themselves.
“Taking away a woman’s right to make a valid decision when it comes to her body is unethical,” Ashfaq said. “Imagine the woman who gets a cancer diagnosis and must decide between continuing the pregnancy or life-saving chemotherapy.”
Ashfaq stated that abortion can be life-saving and that it must be accessible when needed.
Associating himself as anti-abortion, junior Oliver Glance thinks that the bill will be passed.
“I think there are unique scenarios where to save the mother’s life, abortion should be considered, but I do believe it’s murder,” Glance said.
Sinclair said the bill isn’t a war on women, but not passing this bill would be the true war on women.
Iowa Democrats publicly denounced this legislation, saying it is “unconstitutional,” “extreme” and “dangerous,” according to the Des Moines Register. The vote sends it to the Iowa House, where Republicans hold a 59-41 majority and have a similar measure moving through the process.