Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law Friday that bans most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, something that typically happens around six weeks into a pregnancy.
The new law gives Iowa the most restrictive abortion regulation in the country, according to published reports.
Reynolds, a Republican, signed the legislation at the state Capital, as protesters gathered outside of her formal office, yelling, “My body, my choice!” the Associated Press reported. Inside the office, Reynolds was surrounded by children from a local Christian school and other children from supporters.
Is opposition expected?
The governor predicted the new law will likely face legal opposition that could place it on hold. Reynolds signed the bill shortly after affiliates of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union threatened legal action.
“This is bigger than just a law, this is about life, and I’m not going to back down,” Reynolds said.
The law is scheduled to go into effect July 1.
Iowa is now viewed as a leader among conservative-led statehouses that are working to enact new legislation on abortion. Earlier this year, Mississippi enacted a law to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. But the law remains tied up in litigation. In recent years, a federal appeals court struck down similar legislation passed by lawmakers in Arkansas and North Dakota.
In certain cases, women can receive exemptions in Iowa if a pregnancy is threatening a woman’s life or if rape or incest was involved. To be eligible for an exemption, a woman must report a rape within to law enforcement or a physician within 45 days. Incest would have to be reported within 140 days, the Associated Press reported.
Also under the law, some uses of fetal tissue is prohibited, but exceptions can be made for research.
“She is following through on her pledge to the people of Iowa that she is 100 percent pro-life,” said Maggie DeWitte, leader of the group Iowans for Life.
Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement that the organization will “challenge this law with absolutely everything we have on behalf of our patients because Iowa will not go back.”
In the legislature, not a single Democrats voted for the bill and six Republicans also voted against it, according to the Associated Press. Supporters of the “heartbeat bill” said they hope the state’s law will challenge Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortions.