On Jan. 22, Iowa state judge Michael Huppert declared the state’s “fetal heartbeat” law unconstitutional.
The Polk County District Judge wrote in his decision to strike down the law that its defenders didn’t identify a compelling state interest in barring most abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, the Des Moines Register reported.
The bill was signed into law in May 2018 by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and would prevent doctors from performing most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, while many women do not know they are pregnant until eight weeks.
However, the law was challenged by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Emma Goldman Clinic. This prevented the law from taking effect last summer and was the reason for the recent judicial decision.
Surprisingly, supporters of this bill, specifically legislators did not seem shocked about the decision. Almost acting as if they expected the bill be overruled. This is because legislators want the bill to reach the Supreme Court and be used in the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the right to abortion in all 50 states.
According to CNN, Iowa state Sen. Rick Bertrand stated, “This will be the vehicle that will ultimately provide change and provide the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade,” during the floor debate last year.
“It is a strategic way to get into the federal space, I do not want to give them any accolades but, it is working” said Kenna Barnes, the Research Coordinator for the Midland Sexual Health Research Collaborative (MSHRC). “Everything they are doing is very purposeful in terms of planting the seeds.”
Ever since the Roe v. Wade ruling was put into law, states have been attempting to regulate abortion with varying degrees of success. This includes major bills being signed into law which can take months to years to pass, to budget cuts to organizations like Planned Parenthood, which seem minor because of how easily they are approved but have a lasting impact.
However, budget cuts don’t have the impact that law makers expect when attempting to regulate abortion. For example, law makers in Nebraska voted in favor of a bill that will deny federal family-planning funds to Planned Parenthood, but there are two important factors that have been largely overlooked.
One, less than 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s annual budget goes toward abortions. Two, federal funding has never been able to be used towards abortions. In the end, these budget cuts impact the organizations ability to provide general reproductive care to patients not to perform abortions.
“Statically, restricting abortion does not work, women are still getting abortions and they are doing it in really unsafe ways,” Barnes said. “Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures to perform out there, but unfortunately it is also one of the most restricted medical procedures.”
Being on either side of the argument, the law makers we elect should not be presenting bills they do not expect to pass to impact our lives, only to push their own personal agenda. This applies at all levels of the government—local, state and federal. Law makers should be presenting bills to improve the communities they serve, whether that be a city, a state, or the country as a whole.