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'Intentionally Unconstitutional': Part of National Ploy to Outlaw Abortion, Iowa GOP Approves Extreme Anti-Choice Bill

"Dangerous" legislation "weaponizes fetal heartbeat," with aim of challenging Roe vs. Wade at the Supreme Court

Iowa lawmakers passed a bill banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy—a restriction that would effectively outlaw the procedure in the state. (Photo: NARAL Pro-Choice America/Flickr/cc)

Reproductive rights advocates on Wednesday condemned the most restrictive abortion bill in the nation, passed by the Iowa State Senate early in the morning by lawmakers hoping to eventually overturn Roe vs. Wade.

The so-called "heartbeat bill" (Senate File 359) outlaws abortion care for women after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, generally at around six weeks of pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, most women find out they are pregnant between four and seven weeks, meaning the bill would effectively ban most abortions in Iowa. Some exceptions would be permitted for survivors of rape or incest and to save the life of the woman seeking an abortion.  

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund called the bill "dangerous," while the group's midwestern branch, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, called it an "intentionally unconstitutional ban on 99 percent of safe, legal abortion, designed to challenge Roe v. Wade."

"The bill weaponizes fetal heartbeat, which is by all accounts an arbitrary standard that bans abortion long before the point of fetal viability," communications manager Becca Lee told Reuters.

The Associated Press reported that while Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has not signed the bill yet, her office has indicated that she will.

As the Des Moines Register reported, Republican lawmakers who supported the bill openly stated their hopes that the extreme abortion ban would be signed into law and then face legal challenges, eventually advancing to the Supreme Court for a fight over Roe vs. Wade:

The Supreme Court has declined to hear similar cases in recent years. But as states continue to pass legislation restricting abortions and President Donald Trump appoints more conservative federal judges, such as Justice Neil Gorsuch, abortion opponents are increasingly optimistic.

Republican Sen. Rick Bertrand of Sioux City said he hopes the bill's passage makes Iowa "ground zero nationally for the life [anti-abortion] movement and the starting line back to the Supreme Court."

Measures like Senate File 359 have been struck down in recent years by courts in North Dakota and Arkansas.  

Women's rights advocates said Wednesday that they were prepared to fight the legislation and other attempts to curtail abortion access and to challenge women's constitutional right to obtain abortion care.

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