A woman speaks during a protest on the Pentacrest in Iowa City on Saturday, May 5. The protest was held in response to Gov. Kim Reynolds's signing of a new bill that will ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected in the early stages of pregnancy. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Supporters and opponents discuss opinions on new ‘heartbeat bill’ during a protest

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A Saturday protest against a new ‘heartbeat bill’ signed by Governor Reynolds drew plenty of people critical of the legislation, and a few counter-protesters as well.

By Christopher Borro

christopher-borro@uiowa.edu

A new law signed by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds drew a crowd of protesters to the Pentacrest on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Reynolds signed Senate File 359 on Friday. The bill bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which during most pregnancies occurs after six weeks. The governor released in a statement after signing the bill that, “if death is determined when a heart stops beating, then doesn’t a beating heart indicate life? For me, it is immoral to stop an innocent beating heart.”

Around 50 individuals chanted and discussed personal reasons for opposing the bill for around an hour, led by members from the Iowa City chapter of the Democratic Socialists for America organization. They engaged in dialogue with a small group of people who were counter-protesting.

Lucas Bean, an Iowa City resident, was one those staging a counter-protest in favor of the SF359.

“I’ve been pro-life throughout my whole life,” he said. “People have a lot of misconceptions about [the pro-life movement]. To me, it’s about peace and love. Helping women … finding resources for them. If they’re in trouble … there are plenty of alternatives to turn to besides Planned Parenthood.”

Alona Montgomery, a junior at the University of Iowa, was one of the participated in the protest, and said she did not support the legislation.

“I looked into the law…and I think it’s outrageous,” she said.

Montgomery said the bill prevented abortions at too early a time during pregnancies. “Some women don’t even know if they’re pregnant at that point,” she said.

RELATED: Reynolds set to sign fetal-heartbeat bill

Ryan Leparski, another UI junior who attended the event with Montgomery, said “[I] just feel that this is another attack on women’s opportunity to choose. I’m here because I feel like it’s important … to show support and show there’s a community presence in Iowa City that doesn’t want this to take effect.”

Daniel Larkin, a member of the UI Students for Life organization, had different reasons for attending as a counter-protester.

“Out here, we’re showing our support for Governor Reynolds and the state legislature. With Iowa being the leader, hopefully we see more states follow. It’s a very important, historic bill, signed into law by Iowa’s first female governor,” Larkin said.

Larkin said he hoped the Supreme Court picks up any legal case that opponents file against the bill, and noted the impact it can have. “It’s important that we protect life as best we can … I think this is a big step forward in the pro-life movement,” he said.

Adelaide Zwick, president of the UI Student Advocates for Planned Parenthood organization, was one of the speakers at the event. “I’m appalled [by SF359]. This bill is a thinly-veiled attempt … to ban all abortions. I think the ban is an attempt to control women’s bodies.”

Zwick’s student group works in conjunction with Planned Parenthood, and many speakers expressed support for the clinic. “It’s been really disheartening to watch all these attacks on Planned Parenthood happen all over Iowa … I firmly believe that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is going to mount a very strong legal challenge to this bill,” Zwick said.

Iowa affiliates of Planned Parenthood already announced they would challenge the legality of the bill in court.

RELATED: Fetal-heartbeat bill heads to Reynolds’ desk – what happens next?

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