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Iowa Legislature Passes 'Fetal Heartbeat' Bill To Ban Abortions After 6 Weeks

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

Iowa's Legislature has passed a bill that would make most abortions illegal once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The measure, which would effectively ban abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, passed the state House late Tuesday and the state Senate early Wednesday. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has not said whether she will sign the bill.

If it becomes law, the measure would make Iowa one of the most restrictive states in the country when it comes to abortion. Critics argue that it would prohibit abortions before many women even realize they are pregnant. Current law in Iowa allows most abortions up to 20 weeks.

The legislation "would ban most abortions after about six weeks into a pregnancy, with some exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, and to save the life of the mother," Iowa Public Radio reports.

The member station quotes Democratic state Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell as saying, "We may disagree, and we clearly do disagree, on this issue. But we have to look at what's actually the right thing to do, and who should be making these decisions, and it is not us."

Republican state Rep. Shannon Lundgren said earlier this week that she believed the bill would pass.

"We're in the majority for a reason and that includes advancing the pro-life cause," she was quoted in The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier as saying.

As The Des Moines Register reports:

"Republicans who debated Senate File 359 late into the night Tuesday said they hope their law will face a legal challenge so it can advance to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their goal is to overturn the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade, which established that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

"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."

Groups such as Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa have come out against the bill.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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