Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday signed off on a legislation banning most abortions if a fetal heartbeat will be detected, or at about six weeks of being pregnant, The Related Press reported. The new law bans nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which typically happens around six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women even suspect they are pregnant. It additionally stated passage and enactment of the measure has set the state up for a protracted authorized struggle.
But pro-life state legislators, including Republican Sen.
The legislation is aimed at triggering a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 landmark decision which established that women have a constitutional right to an abortion, activists on both sides of the issue said.
"The ACLU of Iowa, along with Planned Parenthood, will not let this unsafe, unconstitutional law stand", said ACLU's Mark Stringer. If one is found, the physician would not be able to perform an abortion.
However, the law would not prosecute an abortionist with civil or criminal offenses while granting abortion-seeking women legal immunity.
The new law has an exception for survivors of rape or incest, but it comes with a few caveats.
A woman who is raped must report the rape "to a law enforcement agency, a public or private health agency or a family physician within 45 days". Those who find themselves pregnant because of incest would have a period of 140 days to report the situation in order to be allowed an abortion.
The bill puts Iowa, a mostly rural state in the midwest that famously swings in elections, in the forefront of restricting abortions. It outlawed the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
"We created an opportunity to take a run at Roe v. Wade - 100 percent", he said.
But the Supreme Court has previously been hostile to "heartbeat" laws. (Most researchers have said a fetus is not considered viable before 20 weeks of pregnancy.) Since that ruling, banning abortion before the 20-week mark has been interpreted by the courts as unconstitutional. "Instead, we will protect the fundamental right of Iowa women to control their bodies and their lives".
"Given that there has been a confirmation of a conservative judge on the Supreme Court, and there are so many Trump nominees to other federal courts, I think the anti-abortion movement really feels emboldened to pursue unconstitutional abortion bans", Shumaker said. "Now is the time for us to unite and fight for every person's right to access the care they need".