Last Friday, surrounded by children from a local Christian school, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds put her signature on a law banning most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, creating the strictest abortion regulation in the nation.
Dubbed the "heartbeat bill," the new law, which will go into place on July 1st if the courts do not stop it, will prohibit physicians from providing abortion services to a woman once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The legislation makes exceptions in cases of incest, rape, or due to a medical emergency.
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A fetal heartbeat can typically be detected on an abdominal ultrasound as early as two weeks after a missed menstrual period, or six weeks gestation. Physicians will now be required to perform an ultrasound on all pregnant women, and refuse abortion services should a heartbeat be detected.
According to data cited by NBC News, only 347 abortions that occurred in the state in 2016, or nine percent, occurred before six weeks of pregnancy. As such, the new law will remove abortion as an option to the vast majority of pregnant women.
Before landing on the Governor's desk on Friday, the bill first passed the state House on Tuesday followed by the state Senate on Wednesday. The Republican-backed bill did not receive one Democratic vote in the Legislature.
"I understand that not everyone will agree with this decision," Reynolds said in a written statement. "But if death is determined when a heart stops beating, then doesn't a beating heart indicate life? For me, it is immoral to stop an innocent beating heart."
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The bill is likely to be challenged in court as the Iowa affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood both clearly articulated that they plan to sue the governor for signing the bill into law. In a tweet on Friday, Planned Parenthood promised to "fight like hell with everything we have."
The new legislation follows a ban on abortions in Iowa after 20 weeks gestation, which was signed into law last year.
As protestors chanted outside of her office, Reynolds said, "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. However, this is bigger than just a law. This is about life. I am not going to back down from who I am or what I believe in."