Iowa law banning most abortions after about 6 weeks takes effect as judge weighs whether to block it

by Madison Thomas
Iowa Abortion Law

As Governor Kim Reynolds signs a restrictive new abortion law in Iowa, which bans most procedures after six weeks of pregnancy, a judge deliberates over whether to enforce a halt on the law.

The newly enacted law, signaling a major shift in Iowa’s policies, primarily prohibits abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically at around six weeks into the pregnancy. Prior to this, women in Iowa were allowed to seek abortions up to 20 weeks into their pregnancy.

The signing ceremony took place amid an audience of approximately 2,000 conservative Christians, situated not far from where a court hearing was happening regarding a request to delay the enforcement of the law. Groups including the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States, and the Emma Goldman Clinic had initiated a legal challenge and made their case at the Friday court hearing.

Judge Joseph Seidlin stated that he might make a decision on the possible enforcement pause on the new law by next week. He noted the contentious nature of the issue and expressed his intention not to make a rushed decision. This illustrates the ongoing conflict over abortion rights in Iowa, a struggle that is likely to persist as the courts determine the constitutionality of the new law.

The bill, which received only Republican backing, was finalized late Tuesday following a rare, extended 14-hour legislative session. The recent legislation will be judged in light of the U.S. Supreme Court and Iowa’s Supreme Court’s decisions last year, where both reversed their prior affirmations of a woman’s fundamental constitutional right to abortion.

Such shifts in court decisions motivated Reynolds to urge the court to revive her 2018 law, almost identical to the new one. Following a deadlock in the state’s high court last month, Reynolds prompted lawmakers to revisit the issue at the Iowa Capitol.

Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, expressed concern for the detrimental effects of the new law on patients, noting the potential for harm as individuals lose their rights to govern their bodies and futures. She further stated her organization’s readiness to help patients obtain the necessary reproductive health care, irrespective of the court’s decision.

Planned Parenthood North Central States has plans to direct patients to other states but remains hopeful of minimal service disruption. Over the next two weeks, 200 patients were slated for abortions at Iowa Planned Parenthood or the Emma Goldman Clinic, as per court records, with most past the six-week limit.

The new law, enacted hastily without a full day’s deliberation, will alter Iowans’ constitutional rights and have severe implications, argued Peter Im, an attorney representing the clinics. He pointed out that the law was passed in less time than the mandatory waiting period for patients to undergo an abortion in Iowa.

Under the new law, abortions after the detection of cardiac activity can be permitted under specific conditions: if the pregnancy resulted from rape and is reported within 45 days to law enforcement or a health provider; from incest and reported within 145 days; if the fetus has a life-incompatible abnormality; or if the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Republican-dominated states have significantly restricted abortion access. Georgia and several other states are dealing with similar constraints, though many are waiting for court rulings.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre described Iowa’s newly enacted law as a severe abortion ban that will curtail women’s right to choose. The Biden-Harris administration, aligning with most Americans, believes that personal health care decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor, not politicians, and continues to urge Congress to enshrine the protections of Roe v. Wade into federal law.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Iowa Abortion Law

What new abortion law was recently signed in Iowa?

The newly enacted law in Iowa, signed by Governor Kim Reynolds, bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, which is usually when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Who signed the new abortion law in Iowa and when was it signed?

The new abortion law in Iowa was signed by Governor Kim Reynolds on Friday, 14th July 2023.

Who are the groups challenging this law in court?

The groups challenging the new abortion law in court include the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States, and the Emma Goldman Clinic.

What was the reaction of the White House to Iowa’s new abortion law?

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement describing Iowa’s new law as an extreme abortion ban that undermines a woman’s right to choose.

Are there any exceptions to the new Iowa abortion law?

Yes, the new law does have limited exceptions, permitting abortions after cardiac activity is detected in cases of rape (if reported within 45 days), incest (if reported within 145 days), fetal abnormality incompatible with life, or if the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life.

What’s the status of similar laws in other states?

Many Republican-led states have significantly limited abortion access in the past year, with some implementing similar restrictions to Iowa’s. However, several of these laws are currently on hold pending court rulings.

More about Iowa Abortion Law

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CivicDebate July 14, 2023 - 10:15 pm

Hope the courts will evaluate this on constitutional terms. Abortion rights are human rights.

LawsAndLiberty July 15, 2023 - 2:45 am

These abortion laws are so politically charged. seems like women’s rights always end up being a battleground.

Rights4All July 15, 2023 - 7:52 am

i can’t believe we’re still having this argument in 2023. seriously folks?

MariaK_45 July 15, 2023 - 12:47 pm

Not every1 has the means to travel out of state for an abortion. What about them?

RachelG_88 July 15, 2023 - 3:19 pm

Honestly, this is really sad news. What happened to a woman’s right to choose??

MidWestMike July 15, 2023 - 3:35 pm

Gov. Reynolds is doing what she thinks is best for Iowa, like it or not. Will be interesting to see how it all plays out in court.

ProLifeJoe July 15, 2023 - 5:07 pm

Great job Iowa! Standing up for the rights of the unborn! This is a win for life.

Anna_M July 15, 2023 - 9:21 pm

Wait, most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at 6 weeks. This law is far too restrictive.


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