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Iowa enacts law banning most abortions

Legislation prohibits procedure if a foetal heartbeat can be detected

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Saturday 05 May 2018 00:25 BST
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said her signing the bill was 'bigger than just a law'
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said her signing the bill was 'bigger than just a law' (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa’s governor has signed an abortion law widely seen as America’s strictest, immediately drawing a legal challenge.

The measure, signed by Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, would prohibit most abortions by banning the procedure after a foetal heartbeat can be detected. Doctors would need to examine women seeking abortions to seek a heartbeat.

“I believe that all innocent life is precious and sacred, and as governor, I pledged to do everything in my power to protect it. That is what I am doing today,” Ms Reynolds said in a statement.

Soon after the governor affixed her signature, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood announced they intended to sue to overturn what the ACLU called “one of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the entire country”. Planned Parenthood denounced the law as “dangerous”.

Acknowledging she anticipated a legal battle in signing the measure, Ms Reynolds said she nevertheless pressed ahead out of a conviction that “I am not going to back down from who I am or what I believe in”.

“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,” Ms Reynolds said. “However, this is bigger than just a law.”

The bill passed the Iowa House of Representatives by a single vote in a late-night vote earlier in the week, winning enough votes by making concessions for cases of rape and incest.

Republican politician suggests that women who have an abortion should face the death penalty

While federal law has held for decades that abortion is legal, Republican-controlled states have increasingly taken matters into their hands by passing more stringent rules restricting when and where abortions can happen.

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