Today, the Iowa Senate passed HF 732, the Heartbeat Bill, 32-17 sending it to Governor Reynolds. Below are the closing remarks of Senate President Amy Sinclair on HF 732 as prepared for delivery:
Thank you Mr. President:
Thank you for sharing this time with me in debate. I respect each of you and the perspective and experiences your life brings to this foundational conversation. Ultimately, House File 732 gets at the very heart of what it means to be an American, to be a person. Five years ago I stood before you advancing this exact legislation, and a colleague shared a quote from Dostoevsky with me: “We are citizens of eternity.” I feel the weight of those words and the long-term impact of the decisions we are making tonight. The bill we have before us carries all the gravity of the human rights atrocity of our time, and history will judge each of us for the role we played here.
As I said, we’ve been here before. I will be saying the very same things I said in 2018 when we initially had this conversation to pass a law to protect the most vulnerable of human beings. We are back again today because of a procedural division of powers that left our existing Iowa Code, Chapter 146C, in limbo. We are forced by our courts to reinforce the legislature’s 2018 intent to protect the unborn, to reinforce this legislature’s continued defense of all human beings’ right to their own lives. And we are more than willing to do that. We are here to confirm that the Iowa Legislature does not pass hypothetical laws. When we pass a law, we mean exactly what is written on the pages placed into code.
First of all, we are not here today as a matter of religion. While I am a person of faith, I do not have a current membership in any church. Secondly, this is not, I repeat NOT a war on women. Roughly 50% of the people this bill is designed to protect are women. So in actual fact, a failure to pass this bill would be the true war on women in its very purest sense… Hear me: the true war on women would be the failure to pass the bill. And finally, the science is on the side of life. No one can honestly view an ultrasound and deny the humanity of the unborn.
This bill is the logical beginning point for all of civil governance. Each of us took a sworn oath to defend the Constitution of Iowa and the Constitution of the United States of America. Each of these documents was created to govern a society where individual liberty is held in the highest regard, where each person’s rights are carefully and fully defended. And the most logical understanding of that right to life acts as a pre-requisite for every other law that exists and every other law that we might make in the future. So as legislators, our very first duty should be to protect each individual’s life above all else. This is why we have laws against murder and manslaughter, against reckless and drunk driving, against arson and drug dealers. These acts endanger the lives of others, and we legislate on the moral grounds that the right to life is a sacred underpinning of society.
So the question we must face in our sworn duty as legislators is this: who is an individual who has the right to have their life defended by society? House File 732 clearly answers that question. And the answer is simple: an individual life is any person with a beating heart.
Two beating hearts have done much to frame who I am and why I am such an advocate of this bill. The first was the beating heart of my first child, Evan. In 1995 at 19 years old I discovered I was pregnant. It was unplanned, and I was unprepared to be a mother, lost in how to move forward. At the doctor’s visit, where the pregnancy was confirmed, a device was placed on my abdomen and I heard my son’s heart for the first time. There was no question that he was alive and functioning independently of me. The other was in 2002 at the end of my father’s life: his heart stopped beating. I knew the man who had raised me was no longer alive. In each of those cases, the heartbeat, or the lack of one, was an indication of another individual person’s life.
Mr. President, colleagues, people with a beating heart, please take a moment with me to reflect on what it means to be human – to aggressively defend your own right to life and your reasonable expectation that your government should actively support you and all other people in the primary endeavor. Mr. President, I move House File 732 be read for the final time and placed on its passage so that all people in Iowa understand that their life has intrinsic value and that our society and government are prepared to defend them.