Iowa Legislature Passes “Heartbeat” Abortion Ban

Jul 12, 2023

DES MOINES, IA – The Iowa legislature convened a special session yesterday and passed a six-week “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban strengthening protection for unborn babies. Governor Kim Reynolds called the state legislature back into session specifically to approve House File 723, which directs physicians in the state to not perform an abortion when the “unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat.” 

The law includes exceptions for rape, incest, medical emergencies, and for fetal abnormalities incompatible with life outside the womb. The Iowa Senate voted 32-14 and the House 56-34 to pass the measure and the law will take effect when Gov. Reynolds signs it. She is expected to sign it later this week. 

The special session was in response to an ongoing legal battle preventing the state’s previous “heartbeat law” from taking effect. In 2018, Iowa passed a six-week abortion ban as a trigger law meant to take effect once the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was overturned. However, a district court invalidated the law as unconstitutional in 2019 while Roe was still in force. After Roe was overturned in June 2022, Gov. Reynolds sought to reinstate the ban in the courts but faced continued opposition at the district court level. She appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court which remains deadlocked 3-3 on the issue keeping the 2018 law unenforceable.

The Iowa Supreme court stated the original ban was “hypothetical” at the time it was passed, and that it would be uncertain today if it would pass again with significant membership changes in the legislature.

Therefore, Iowa re-legislated its “heartbeat law,” which differs very little from its predecessor. 

Once signed into law, Iowa will join at least five other states with fetal heartbeat laws, such as Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, and South Carolina. At least 16 other states ban abortion at conception, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virgina, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Every person has an inalienable right to life. The blood of more than 63 million children brutally aborted since Roe v. Wade will forever be a stain on our nation. Our attitude and actions respecting human life will determine our destiny.” 

For more information about state laws protecting unborn life, visit Liberty Counsel’s website here

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