Iowa statehouse passes through fetal heartbeat bill

The Iowa State House chamber on Thur. Mar 11 2016

The Iowa State House chamber on Thur. Mar 11 2016

According to Iowa Public Radio, the House passed the legislation on Tuesday night with a 51-46 vote.

The Iowa State Legislature passed legislation on Wednesday aimed at banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The bill bans abortion in all cases after six weeks of pregnancy, which critics of the legislation argue is before most women are aware they are pregnant.

But the Supreme Court has declined to take up states' petitions to hear challenges to Roe v. Wade, and in 2016 struck down by a 5-3 vote a Texas law that would have severely restricted restrictions.

"By passing an intentionally unconstitutional bill, Iowa Republicans have declared that they do not care about the foundational values of our state, or Iowa's future", Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa said.

The Iowa Supreme Court last fall blocked enforcement of the provision until justices resolve an appeal of a Polk County District Court decision regarding its constitutionality.

If signed, the bill would arguably become one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

The legislation passed overnight has some exemptions, allowing abortions after a detectable heartbeat in order to save a pregnant woman's life, and in some cases of rape and incest.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that the GOP legislation is an "extreme and draconian policy" meant to restrict the right to access reproductive health care. The bill was then sent to the state senate, where lawmakers in the early morning hours on Wednesday voted 29 to 17 to approve the changes made by the house.

So-called heartbeat bans have been deemed unconstitutional because they seek to ban abortion months before the point at which a fetus is viable.

But many Iowa Republicans said they felt the time was right to pass legislation that could advance to the U.S. Supreme Court and pose a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that found women have a constitutionally protected right to abortion. MS passed a law earlier this year banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but it's on hold after a court challenge. Women typically sense that they may be pregnant at around five or six weeks, around the same time a fetal heartbeat would show up on an ultrasound.

"Along with our partner organizations, the ACLU of Iowa will stand with Iowa women to protect their fundamental right to control their bodies and their lives", Stringer said. "Those of us who are against abortion have no hidden agenda". It also makes an exception if the fetus has an abnormality that in a physician's "reasonable medical judgment" is incompatible with life, or a miscarriage not fully expelled on its own.

"This bill is one more example of state politicians, emboldened by the Trump-Pence administration, carrying out policy after policy that strip away people's freedoms and access to care", Laguens said in a statement.

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

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