Iowa statehouse passes through fetal heartbeat bill

Sergio Conner
May 3, 2018

Iowa's predominantly Republican legislature passed a bill that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, a significant step toward enacting one of the most restrictive laws of its kind in the United States, which would pave the way for a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Several doctors testified in support of Milkovich's proposal on Wednesday and Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he would be inclined to sign the bill into law if approved. Exceptions would be made for rape, situations in which the mother's life is in danger, incest, and fetal abnormalities.

If signed into law, this would be one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, and it's likely a lawsuit would immediately be filed to block it. Bill supporters have said they want Iowa to take this law to the nation's highest court to challenge the Roe v. Wade decision that affirmed a woman's right to obtain an abortion.

"Today we will begin this journey as Iowa becomes ground zero nationally for the life movement and the starting line back to the Supreme Court", said Sen. Rick Bertrand, (R) Iowa.

"It is risky for woman in Iowa and it is blatantly unconstitutional and we are frankly horrified", Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Director of Public Affairs Erin Davidson Rippey said.

NARAL Pro-Choice America national communications director Kaylie Hanson Long said in a statement that Iowa's potential law would ban abortion before most women knew they were pregnant.

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The Supreme Court in 2016 rejected appeals by both North Dakota and Arkansas to preserve similar "heartbeat" laws, which had been struck down by lower courts.

The law could deny a woman an abortion as early as six weeks into her pregnancy.

Milkovich's proposal was approved in the Senate last week with an amendment that it will only go into law if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of a similar law in MS that also bans abortions after 15 weeks.

Many other states have recently been attempting to advance and push for more abortion laws, such as MS, which recently passed a law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks.

Although the bill does declare that nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected are illegal it doesn't spell out what the penalty for violating the law would be.

Rep. Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton, said that "absolutely nothing" would stop a "desperate" woman from lying to a physician, who can not investigate whether a pregnancy is the result of incest and can not report it to law enforcement. It and other similar "heartbeat" legislation have been found unconstitutional by lower courts. "That is, under previous supreme court precedence, this kind of bill is clearly not constitutional". "This bill says it's time to change the way we think about unborn life", said Rep.

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