DES MOINES, Iowa--The Iowa Senate passed the so-called "fetal heart beat bill" Wednesday, which bans most abortions. Supporters acknowledge that the bill, if later signed into law, likely faces a constitutional challenge.
The bill outlaws abortions after doctors can detect a heart beat, which is generally around six weeks of gestation. It does provide an exception if the mother's life is at risk. It does not provide exceptions in the case of rape or incest. The change would also mean that a doctor who performs an abortion after a heart beat is detected could be criminally charged with a felony and face up to five years in prison.
The final vote was 30-20. All Republicans and the one Independent in the senate voted for the bill. All Democrats opposed it.
The debate on the bill, which would bring major changes to the abortion laws in the state, lasted 20 minutes with three Democrats speaking in opposition.
A Des Moines Register poll released earlier this month showed 55% of Iowans believe life begins at conception.
Iowa's current law, which the Republican-led legislature approved last year bans most abortions after 20 weeks of conception.