HomeTop StoriesIowa lawmakers pass six-week abortion ban at special marathon session

Iowa lawmakers pass six-week abortion ban at special marathon session

Des Moines, Iowa – The Republican-led Iowa legislature passed a bill banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy during a special marathon session on Tuesday that went on late into the night. Gov. Kim Reynolds immediately said in a statement that she would sign the bill Friday.

The measure passed with exclusively Republican support in a rare, one-day legislative blowout lasting more than 14 hours following the vociferous — and at times tense — objections from Democratic lawmakers and abortion lawyers protesting outside the Capitol.

The House passed the legislation shortly after 9 p.m. by a vote of 56 to 34, CBS Des Moines affiliate KCCI-TV reported. It then went to the Senate, where it was approved by a 32-17 vote at 11 p.m.

Soon after, the protesters in the stands were booed and yelled “shame” at the senators in the minutes after the bill was passed.

KCCI reporter Amanda Rooker was there:

Reynolds ordered the rare hearing after the state Supreme Court refused to reintroduce an almost identical law in June that she signed in 2018.

“The Iowa Supreme Court questioned whether this legislature would pass the same law as it did in 2018, and today they have a clear answer,” Reynolds said in a statement. “The voices of Iowans and their democratically elected representatives can no longer be ignored, and justice for the unborn must not be delayed.”

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Abortion is currently legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks gestation. The legislation takes effect immediately Friday with the governor’s signature. It will ban almost all abortions once heart activity can be detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.

Preparations were already underway to quickly file legal proceedings in court and have the measure blocked, once Reynolds signs it into law.

“The ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic remain committed to protecting the reproductive rights of Iowans to take control of their bodies and their lives, their health and their safety – including filing a lawsuit to reckless, brutal law,” Iowa ACLU Executive Director Mark Stringer said in a statement.

In the meantime, Planned Parenthood North Central States has said they will refer patients out of state if they need an abortion in the coming weeks. The organization, the largest abortion provider in the state, will continue to provide care to patients who attend before detecting heart activity.

There are limited circumstances under the measure that allow abortion after that point in a pregnancy where cardiac activity is detected – such as rape, if reported to the police or a healthcare provider within 45 days; incest, if reported within 145 days; if the fetus has a fetal anomaly “incompatible with life”; and if the pregnancy endangers the life of the pregnant woman.

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For much of the morning and afternoon, the chants of abortion lawyers echoed through the rotunda and could be heard from rooms where state representatives and senators met in the morning and afternoon. For a total of nearly four hours, members of the public for and against the bill alternately conveyed their views to legislators from both chambers.

Sara Eide of the Iowa Catholic Conference encouraged lawmakers to vote in favor.

“The unborn child is a separate human life with its own value, with its own DNA and with its own right to life and right to legal protection,” she said. “As a state and as a society, we must work to protect all vulnerable populations wherever we find them.”

Hilary McAdoo, a fertility nurse, said her two daughters motivated her to voice her opposition on Tuesday.

“Just because a person has the option to conceive doesn’t mean they should be forced to become a mother,” she said. “The people before me want to rule women’s bodies without understanding how they work.”

McAdoo called the six-week lockdown “impossible and irresponsible.”

Laws such as Iowa’s prohibit abortion when a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected – a concept not easily translatable to medical science. That’s because at the point where advanced technology can detect that first visual flutter, the embryo isn’t yet a fetus and doesn’t have a heart. An embryo is called a fetus from the 11th week of pregnancy, say medical experts.

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A district court in 2019 ruled that the 2018 law was unconstitutional based on rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Iowa Supreme Court that affirmed a woman’s basic constitutional right to an abortion.

After both bodies quashed those statements last year, the governor tried to reinstate the 2018 law. But the state’s Supreme Court stalled last month without ruling on the merits of an abortion ban, leaving the law permanently blocked.

And so Reynolds called lawmakers back to Des Moines.

Democratic lawmakers have proposed changes to the language to expand the exceptions. They were quickly rejected.

“Women in Iowa are less free than they were a week ago and that’s because of the work of Republicans in the legislature and governor,” said House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst. bill is signed into law.

“We will spend every day between now and Election Day letting voters know that the Republican legislature was too extreme, went too far and voted against the interests of ordinary Iowans,” she added.

KCCI said a Des Moines Register-Mediacom Iowa poll released in March found a majority of Iowans opposed restricting abortion, with 21% of respondents saying it should be legal in all cases and 40% said it should be legal in most cases.

According to KCCI’s Rooker, Korfrst said there was overwhelming opposition to the bill in online comments.

Most Republican-led states have drastically restricted access to abortion in the year since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and transferred authority over abortion law to the states. More than a dozen states have banned with limited exceptions and one state, Georgia, bans abortion after heart activity is detected. Several other states have similar restrictions pending court rulings.

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