Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed the country’s most restrictive abortion bill into law Friday, outlawing the procedure once a “heartbeat” is detected, which is usually at about six weeks — a time when many people do not yet know they are pregnant.
The bill has been dubbed the “heartbeat” bill, a highly loaded term, as one doctor pointed out in a HuffPost piece in 2016, asking instead that they be referred to as “fetal pole cardiac activity.”
The law has exceptions for cases of rape and incest. It was passed in the middle of the night earlier this week. Iowa had already banned abortions after 20 weeks. The law is sure to draw challenges in court, something the bill’s advocates say is actually part of their goal.
“It is time for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of life,” state Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R), the bill’s floor manager, said.
Reynolds, who has in the past referred to abortion as “murder,” echoed that sentiment in a statement Friday.
“I understand and anticipate that this will likely be challenged in court, and that courts may even put a hold on the law until it reaches the Supreme Court,” Reynolds said in a statement. “This is bigger than just a law. This is about life.”
Reynolds and her allies did indeed draw a court challenge Friday, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood confirmed they would be suing.
“Iowans can rest assured: [We] won’t let politicians get away with trying to block access to abortion,” the ACLU tweeted Friday evening.
North Dakota and Arkansas have both tried to pass “heartbeat” legislation in the past, but both attempts were blocked by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court declined to review each the cases after they were blocked by lower courts.