Iowa governor signs strictest abortion regulation in US

May 4, 2018 by Barbara Rodriguez
Iowa governor signs strictest abortion regulation in US
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, center, reacts after signing a six-week abortion ban bill into law during a ceremony in her formal office, Friday, May 4, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa. The bill gives Iowa the strictest abortion restrictions in the nation, setting the state up for a lengthy court challenge. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday signed a law banning most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or at around six weeks of pregnancy, marking the strictest abortion regulation in the nation—but setting the state up for a lengthy court fight.

The Republican governor signed the legislation in her formal office at the state Capitol as protesters gathered outside chanting, "My body, my choice!" Reynolds acknowledged that the new law would likely face litigation, but said: "This is bigger than just a law, this is about life, and I'm not going to back down." Reynolds has previously said she was "proud to be pro-life."

The ban, set to take effect on July 1, has propelled Iowa to the front of a push among conservative statehouses jockeying to enact restrictive regulations on the medical procedure. Mississippi passed a law earlier this year banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but it's on hold after a court challenge.

The Iowa law provides for some exemptions that allow abortions during a later pregnancy stage to save a pregnant woman's life or in some cases of rape and incest.

Maggie DeWitte, who leads the group Iowans for Life, called Reynolds' move "historic."

"We couldn't be more pleased," DeWitte said Friday. "She is following through on her pledge to the people of Iowa that she is 100 percent pro-life."

The bill signing came shortly after the Iowa affiliates of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union warned that they would sue the governor if she signed the bill, which the Republican-controlled Legislature quickly approved in after-hours votes earlier in the week.

"We will challenge this law with absolutely everything we have on behalf of our patients because Iowa will not go back," Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement.

Backers of the so-called heartbeat bill—which didn't get a single Democratic vote in the Legislature during final passage—expressed hope it could challenge Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established women have a right to terminate pregnancies until a fetus is viable. Conservatives say an influx of right-leaning judicial appointments under President Donald Trump could make it a possibility.

Critics argued the bill would ban abortions before some women even know they're pregnant. That likely sets the state up for a legal challenge, including from the same federal appeals court that three years ago struck down similar legislation approved in Arkansas and North Dakota.

In Iowa, the same Republican-majority Legislature passed a 20-week abortion ban last year. It's now in effect, though a provision requiring a three-day waiting period to get an abortion is tied up in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Still, Republican lawmakers indicated they would push for more restrictions this session.

Outside of Reynolds' office earlier Friday, critics of the bill began leaving coat hangers by her staff's desks. The protests followed the morning rally outside of the Capitol where more than 100 people showed up to oppose the legislation. One of them was Georgia Jecklin, a retired teacher who drove in from Davenport.

"As a 66-year-old woman, I feel very strongly that women have a right to their own body decisions," she said.

Explore further: Iowa lawmakers approve the most restrictive US abortion bill

Related Stories

Iowa lawmakers approve the most restrictive US abortion bill

May 2, 2018
Republican lawmakers with control of the Iowa statehouse fast-tracked a bill early Wednesday that would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy, sending what could be the ...

Mississippi imposes 15-week abortion ban; nation's toughest

March 19, 2018
Mississippi's governor signed a law Monday banning most abortions after 15 weeks' gestations, the tightest restrictions in the nation.

Quick challenge for Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban

March 20, 2018
The nation's most restrictive abortion law is headed for a showdown before a federal judge only hours after it was signed by Mississippi's governor.

Mississippi governor says he supports 15-week abortion ban

March 6, 2018
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is indicating he will sign a bill that would set the earliest abortion ban in the United States.

Mississippi passes law banning abortion after 15 weeks

March 8, 2018
Mississippi lawmakers on Thursday passed what would be the nation's most restrictive abortion law, making the procedure illegal in most cases after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The state's only abortion provider pledged to sue, ...

Judge temporarily blocks Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban

March 20, 2018
A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a new Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks' gestation—the most restrictive abortion law in the United States.

Recommended for you

Juul e-cigarettes pose addiction risk for young users, study finds

October 19, 2018
Teens and young adults who use Juul brand e-cigarettes are failing to recognize the product's addictive potential, despite using it more often than their peers who smoke conventional cigarettes, according to a new study by ...

Self-lubricating latex could boost condom use: study

October 17, 2018
A perpetually unctuous, self-lubricating latex developed by a team of scientists in Boston could boost the use of condoms, they reported Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Engineered enzyme eliminates nicotine addiction in preclinical tests

October 17, 2018
Scientists at Scripps Research have successfully tested a potential new smoking-cessation treatment in rodents.

Nutrition has a greater impact on bone strength than exercise

October 17, 2018
One question that scientists and fitness experts alike would love to answer is whether exercise or nutrition has a bigger positive impact on bone strength.

How healthy will we be in 2040?

October 17, 2018
A new scientific study of forecasts and alternative scenarios for life expectancy and major causes of death in 2040 shows all countries are likely to experience at least a slight increase in lifespans. In contrast, one scenario ...

Study finds evidence of intergenerational transmission of trauma among ex-POWs from the Civil War

October 16, 2018
A trio of researchers affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research has found evidence that suggests men who were traumatized while POWs during the U.S. Civil War transmitted that trauma to their offspring—many ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.