Governor Branstad is throwing his full support behind anti-abortion legislation making its way through the Republican-controlled legislature, saying the new GOP majority in the Iowa Senate is making it possible.
Branstad backs a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy that has passed the Iowa Senate and is now awaiting a vote in the full House.
House Republicans last week introduced a measure to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly 5 to 6 weeks into pregnancy, before some women would know they are pregnant.
But the GOP withdrew the fetal heartbeat language after they could not win consensus within their own ranks.
Branstad agrees with that decision.
“Considering the present makeup of the courts the chances of that would start with the heartbeat is probably not going to be approved in the courts,” Branstad said. “We don’t want to give Planned Parenthood another victory in the courts.”
Courts in other states have thrown out laws banning abortion after 20 weeks.
But Branstad says he is optimistic the legislature will pass the 20-week ban.
“We have a broad coalition of people that are supporting what the legislature is doing,” Branstad said. “This is something we’ve not been able to do before because we did not have a Senate majority and now we can.”
The governor and lieutenant governor along with the Republican House speaker spoke at last week’s gathering at the capitol of anti-abortion activists.
Speakers at the rally said they will not support a candidate for governor who does not back a bill declaring life to begin at conception, essentially banning all abortions.
“We need leadership on the sanctity of human life," said Family Leader President Bob Vanderplaats, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in 2002 and again in 2010. In 2006 he was the candidate for lieutenant governor, running with gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle.
Earlier, Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames) spoke to Planned Parenthood supporters who showed up at the capitol dressed in pink, carrying posters. "I just want to say thank you so much for being here," Wessel-Kroeschell said. "We have the public eye on this."