In a special late night session Tuesday, the Iowa legislature advanced a bill that would ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
House File 732, known as the “Fetal Heartbeat Bill,” would ban abortions in the state of Iowa as soon as any cardiac activity is detected in the fetus. Such activity can be detected at approximately six weeks after conception, before many women even know they are pregnant. The bill allows for exceptions only in cases of rape and incest — and in these cases, only if reported within a certain timeframe — or certain severe medical emergencies.
The bill is one of many state legislative initiatives aimed at curtailing reproductive rights in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade. While Iowa had originally codified abortion protections into the state Constitution, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned this codification in June of 2023 following the Dobbs decision. This ruling opened the door for increased abortion restrictions in the state.
Almost immediately following this ruling, the Iowa legislature began pushing for more restrictive bills. House File 732 was passed by both the House and the Senate in a special one-day session late Tuesday night, called by Republican Governor Kim Reynolds.
In a press release Tuesday morning, Governor Reynolds stated:
As a pro-life Governor, I am … committed to continuing policies to support women in planning for motherhood, promote the importance of fatherhood, and encourage strong families. Our state and country will be stronger because of it.
Reynolds is expected to sign the bill on Friday.