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Iowa poised to ban most abortions after about 6 weeks

The Republican-controlled state legislature passed a bill that would prohibit the procedure after a heartbeat is detected.
Iowa poised to ban most abortions after about 6 weeks
Posted at 7:32 AM, Jul 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-12 20:48:51-04

Amid protests, Iowa's Republican-led House and Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would ban most abortions in the state after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. The vote came during a one-day special session that was called by Gov. Kim Reynolds, who immediately said she plans to sign the bill into law Friday.

Reynolds ordered the special session after the state Supreme Court declined to reinstate an identical measure that she signed back in 2018. The pending law would prohibit most abortions once a heartbeat can be detected, which is typically after about six weeks of pregnancy — before some women are aware they're pregnant.

"Today, the Iowa legislature once again voted to protect life and end abortion at a heartbeat, with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother," Reynolds said in a statement. "The Iowa Supreme Court questioned whether this legislature would pass the same law they did in 2018, and today they have a clear answer. The voices of Iowans and their democratically elected representatives cannot be ignored any longer, and justice for the unborn should not be delayed."

SEE MORE: Abortion in America: A Scripps News special report

The new bill does list certain circumstances that would allow for an abortion after cardiac activity is detected, such as instances of rape or incest, if reported within 45 days or 145 days respectively. It also allows the procedure in instances where there is a fetal abnormality that's "incompatible with life," or if the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. 

Iowa law currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks into pregnancy. The latest measure would make Iowa the 13th state to pass a six-week abortion ban, but it is certain to face legal challenges in court once signed into law. 

According to data tracked by the reproduction rights advocacy group Guttmacher Institute, Iowa is already among 26 states that either place multiple restrictions on abortions or ban the procedure entirely.

Just hours after the bill's passage, the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Emma Goldman Clinic sued to suspend it until its constitutionality can be evaluated. A hearing in the suit is scheduled for Friday, before Gov. Reynolds is scheduled to sign the bill.

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