Fetal heartbeat bill heads to Gov. Reynolds' desk - what happens next?

03 May, 2018, 15:34 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Fetal Heartbeat Bill Passes in House and Senate Awaits Governor’s Signature	 	 	 			WHO-HD

State Senator Rick Bertrand, of Sioux City, was one of 29 Republicans in the Iowa Senate to vote for the "fetal heartbeat bill".

Iowa's Republican-dominated Senate early Wednesday fast-tracked a bill that would make most abortions illegal once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The bill does include exceptions if the pregnant person's life is in danger, in cases of rape and incest, and a few others.

Republican lawmakers, who control both chambers, passed the bill in back-to-back votes, sending it to the governor's desk to sign into law.

A provision in that legislation requiring a three-day waiting period for abortions - among the longest wait periods in the country - was challenged in court. Emboldened by the court's makeup, they think it will help overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision by the Supreme Court that legalized the right to an abortion in all 50 states. He added Iowa's legislation was created to "thrust into the court" the question of whether or not abortion should remain legal, with few exceptions.

Iowa Republicans who approved the nation's strictest abortion measure predict it will trigger a legal battle that ultimately leads to the Supreme Court's overturning Roe v. Wade. Several states have tried to toughen their abortion laws, only to be met with legal challenges.

Beyond the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines, the bill drew fierce criticism from abortion rights advocates and effusive praise among abortion opponents.

The almost back-to-back votes come as Iowa lawmakers are on overtime at the state Capitol, trying to pass a spending budget and tax cuts later this week. And the bill leaves it to the discretion of the Iowa Board of Medicine whether to pursue disciplinary action against physicians who perform a prohibited abortion, which could range from a warning to revoking their medical license.


The U.S. Supreme Court has denied hearing the case of a similar law from North Dakota in recent years.

The bill would also ban the sale of fetal tissue in Iowa.

Democrats on the other hand argued, the bill is too restrictive on women's health and that a woman should be allowed to make decisions about her own body with her doctor. A fetus's heartbeat can typically be detected at just six weeks, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

President Donald Trump and his administration have taken a strong stance against abortion.

According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa Republicans said during a debate Tuesday night that they hope the law faces a legal challenge, so that it can advance to the Supreme Court.

Iowa's Republican governor Kim Reynolds has not said if she will sign the bill. Most abortions in Iowa are barred after 20 weeks, whereas most states prohibit abortions once the fetus is viable, that is when the fetus is capable of prolonged life outside of the mother's womb.

The abortion issue could return to the Supreme Court this term in a California free-speech case.

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