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Fetal Heartbeat Bill Passes in House and Senate, Awaits Governor’s Signature

DES MOINES, Iowa – A controversial measure that would make most abortions illegal in Iowa after a fetal heartbeat is detected has passed in the Iowa House and Senate.

The House passed the measure late Tuesday night and after debate in the Senate, it was also passed early Wednesday morning.

The debate has been a long time coming and now the bill will head to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk for a final signature before it becomes law.

No other state has been able to enact a bill like this.

The Senate passed a ban in February but Republicans struggled to find enough supporters in the House. Lawmakers added in exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother to attract more backers.

The bill also says mothers can't be criminally prosecuted for having an abortion, but doesn't contain specific language about doctors.

Members of the House went back and forth for more than nine hours Tuesday before their decision.

“With this bill we make Iowa one of the safest places for the baby in the womb in the entire nation,” said Republican Rep. Sandy Salmon.

Democrat Jo Oldson said, “We have stomped on women`s rights to make their own healthcare decision and in my opinion, it is being used as a bargaining chip to shut the place down.”

Just after 11:00 p.m. the House passed the bill with a vote of 51 to 46.

The Senate then took it up for debate and this is what lawmakers had to say on the floor.

“This bill takes away personal liberty that individual women should have to make their own healthcare decisions. These decisions are private and belong to a woman in consultation with her doctor, her physician, her family and whoever she wants to involve in the decision, but not the government and not the politicians,” said Democrat Sen. Matt Mccoy.

Republican Sen. Rick Bertrand said, “This bill will be the vehicle that will ultimately provide change and provide the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade. There’s nothing hidden here about the agenda. You know, today the pro-life movement won a battle, but the war rages on. My Republican colleagues, this is the vote of your career.”

Just before 2:30 a.m. the Senate passed the bill with a vote of 29 to 17. It will now head to the governor's desk to be signed.

If signed the bill would ban most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. This can be as early as six weeks gestation. Current law bans most abortions after 20 weeks.