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Iowa judge strikes down ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion law
© WikiMedia (Brian Stansberry)
Iowa judge strikes down ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion law

On Iowa judge on Tuesday struck down legislation banning abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is often as early as six weeks.

The legislation, signed into law by Republican Governor Kim Reynolds last May, prohibits doctors from performing an abortion after a fetus’ cardiac activity is detectable, which occurs before a fetus becomes viable.

Polk County District Judge Michael Huppert concluded that the law was “violative of both the due process and equal protection provisions of the Iowa Constitution as not being narrowly tailored to serve the compelling state interest of promoting potential life.” Many women do not even know they are pregnant at six weeks, and, under the bill, by the time some women discover they are pregnant it would be too late for an abortion. The Iowa Supreme Court has determined that a woman’s right to make a decision to determine if she would like to end a pregnancy is fundamental under the Iowa Constitution.

At the time of signing the bill, Reynolds released a statement acknowledging a likely court challenge but said: “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. For me, my faith leads me to protect every Iowan, no matter how small.” Some legislators who supported the bill last May did so in hope that their law will be the vehicle to overturn Roe v. Wade, counting on the current conservative Supreme Court to eliminate abortion rights.

Planned Parenthood released a statement celebrating the court decision. Erin Davison-Rippey, Planned Parenthood’s State Executive Director of Iowa, stated:

We are grateful the Court blocked Gov. Reynolds’ egregious attempt to ban safe, legal abortion in Iowa. Planned Parenthood will continue to stand up for Iowa women and fight back against the Legislature’s attacks on reproductive health. We will do all we can to make sure abortion continues to be safe and legal in our state—no matter what.