Iowa governor signs heartbeat-based abortion ban into law News
© WikiMedia Commons (Elvert Barnes)
Iowa governor signs heartbeat-based abortion ban into law

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a heartbeat-based abortion ban into law Friday after the bill passed in a marathon special session of the Iowa legislature.

The newly enacted law states, “A physician shall not perform an abortion upon a pregnant woman when it has been determined that the unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat, unless, in the physician’s reasonable medical judgment, a medical emergency or fetal heartbeat exception exists.” A heartbeat is generally detectable around five to six weeks of pregnancy according to medical experts. However, most women discover they are pregnant between five to six weeks according to experts, with some medical studies suggesting one in three are not aware they are pregnant until after six weeks.

Reynolds celebrated the law’s enactment at the Family Leader Summit, saying:

I can’t imagine a more appropriate place to sign this bill than here at the Family Leader Summit, alongside such strong advocates who have fought and prayed for the protection of life for decades. Thank you for your courage and conviction.

Reynolds then asked, “When is an unborn baby worth protecting? Or are there no limits?”  She then went on to accuse Democrats of “believ[ing] in abortion on demand up until the very moment of birth.”

Planned Parenthood North Central States released a statement saying they would be referring pregnant people in Iowa seeking abortions to other states:

We will continue to do everything we can to support our impacted patients. Planned Parenthood remains committed to providing abortion care in Iowa within the legal guidelines. Our abortion patient navigators will continue to connect patients in Iowa with the resources they need to get to their appointments, wherever they are. No matter what, we will help our patients be seen in a place that’s most accessible for them, whether it’s in Nebraska, Minnesota, or a state outside of our affiliate.

The law’s signing comes after a lengthy court battle over a similar 2018 law, which was struck down by the Iowa Supreme Court. The court reasoned that much had changed in the legislature since 2018 and it was unclear whether such a law would pass in 2023. Reynolds responded to the court in her remarks, saying, “They…expressed their uncertainty that such a law would be passed today post-Roe, as if the politics of the day would change our view on life. They were wrong.”

The new law comes a little over a year after the landmark US Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was released, which overturned the previously precedential Roe v. Wade, making abortion no longer a constitutionally guaranteed right. Since then, abortion bans of varying levels of severity have proliferated across the US. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, fourteen states have banned abortions so early that they are banned in practice or have banned them outright.

The new Iowa law is expected to be challenged in court.