Last Friday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed historic legislation to prohibit abortions where the baby’s heartbeat can be detected. The law includes exceptions for medical necessity, rape, and incest.
The heartbeat law will not immediately confer protection on any Iowa children. There will be a legal challenge, and the law will almost certainly be enjoined while the case is pending. And the abortion industry plaintiffs will succeed in the lower courts, which have no power to deviate from unjust precedents set by higher courts. Iowa lawmakers knew all of this when they cast their votes. This is a long-term strategy; it will take a couple of years for the law to reach the Supreme Court, by which time they hope that one or more of the older pro-abortion Justices will have been replaced with a pro-life Justice. If they’re right, the Supreme Court will have an opportunity to reverse Roe v. Wade.
Justice Kennedy, who has long provided the decisive fifth vote condemning preborn children to death, has been the subject of retirement rumors for years. He is 81 years old. The oldest member of the Court is 85-year-old Justice Ginsburg, a strong abortion advocate who will surely refuse to retire if there is any chance her replacement will recognize the right to life. Justice Breyer, also a reliable vote against pro-life legislation, is 79.
Even if the heartbeat law is ultimately killed by the courts, however, it still has some value as an educational tool. Recall that the pro-life movement pursued a ban on partial-birth abortion for well over a decade before it was finally upheld by the Supreme Court; during those years, partial-birth abortion was frequently in the news and the public was informed about the brutality of abortion methods. In the case of the heartbeat bill, we’re educating the public about prenatal development. The heartbeat bill has forced abortion advocates to adopt the talking point that the heartbeat begins “around six weeks, before some women even know they’re pregnant.” It’s impossible to reconcile that statement with the ignorant clump-of-cells view of abortion, or with prior pro-abortion obfuscation about when the heartbeat begins.
Abortion industry groups are caught off balance, as demonstrated by this unintentionally hilarious quote by a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood’s Iowa affiliate:
“The bill weaponizes fetal heartbeat, which is by all accounts an arbitrary standard that bans abortion long before the point of fetal viability,” Lee said in an email to Reuters.
You guys. They think that heartbeats are “arbitrary” and that fetal viability isn’t! I actually laughed out loud when I read that.
Another response from the abortion industry has been much less amusing. They’ve resorted to fearmongering, falsely telling Iowans that medical schools are required to teach abortions, and therefore the heartbeat law will cause the state’s only ob/gyn residency program to lose its accreditation, and therefore the state’s ob/gyn shortage will get worse.
Wait a second, you might be thinking. If every medical school has to do abortion training to be accredited, how are Catholic medical schools a thing? Right you are. There is a federal law that addresses this very issue: if an accrediting body penalizes a school for not teaching abortions, the school is deemed accredited anyway. But that fact didn’t stop the Iowa City Press-Citizen from running an entire article based on the premise that the heartbeat bill could “effectively kill the only obstetrics and gynecology residency program in the state.”
I brought this up with Robin Marty, who is one of the most honest pro-abortion journalists out there. You can read our twitter conversation here. Suffice to say, the article is indefensible and its authors, Aimee Breaux and Will Greenberg, should be ashamed of themselves.