Iowa Abortion Ban Passed By Legislature Centered Around Fetal Heartbeat

Charlie NeibergallAP Images

If Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signs the abortion bill that will soon be on her desk, she will establish the state as among the most strict in the country regarding abortion. The bill (Senate File 359) passed the Iowa legislature on Wednesday, and if signed into law would establish an abortion ban beginning at the point at which the heartbeat of a woman’s fetus can be detected. This would mean that a woman could not receive an abortion as early as six weeks into her pregnancy, when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant, instead of the state’s current abortion ban that applies starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions would be made for rape, situations in which the mother’s life is in danger, incest, and fetal abnormalities. Governor Reynolds has not indicated whether or not she intends to sign the bill.

If the new abortion ban, which has become known as the heartbeat bill, becomes law, it’s expected to be challenged in court. National Public Radio quotes a Des Moines newspaper as saying that Republicans who pushed for the bill are hoping that although the Supreme Court has refused to hear such cases in recent years, this law could change that trend. Their hope is that getting this abortion ban reviewed by the Supreme Court will lead to Roe v Wade being overturned.

President Donald Trump and his administration have taken a strong stance against abortion. The Hill reports that since he became president, there has been a wave of bans or restrictions on abortion in numerous states. The appointment of more conservative judges like Justice Neil Gorsuch at the federal level has given abortion opponents hope for more success in implementing bans. Last year saw the passage of more abortion laws than any year since 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute. A total of 63 restrictions on abortions were passed last year. A total of 26 bills that seek to ban abortion in some way have been proposed. Fifteen of them would ban abortion after 20 weeks, and 11 would ban it at any point if the only reason the abortion is being sought is a detected health issue with the fetus, like Down Syndrome.