Iowa lawmakers pass 6-week ban on most abortions

Republican Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, is pictured in an Oct. 1, 2022, photo. During a special session July 11, 2023, the Iowa Legislature passed a ban on most abortions after six weeks and Reynolds said she will sign the measure into law July 14. (OSV News photo/Lee Navin, Des Moines Register/USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters)

DES MOINES, Iowa (OSV News) — During a special session July 11, the Iowa Legislature passed a ban on most abortions after six weeks. Once Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signs the measure July 14, it takes effect immediately. The bill passed just before midnight with only Republican votes after more than 14 hours of testimony from people on both sides of the abortion issue.

Reynolds had called the Legislature back into the special session “with the sole purpose of enacting legislation that addresses abortion and protects unborn lives” after the Iowa Supreme Court deadlocked June 16 in a 3-3 vote and left an injunction in place against a 2018 “heartbeat” law. That law prohibited abortions after a heartbeat could be detected but has never been enforced. Abortion is currently legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The new law, which is identical to the earlier law, prohibits almost all abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy.  The measure includes exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.

Ahead of the special session, the Iowa Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s Catholic bishops on public policy, said it supported efforts by lawmakers to limit the harm of abortion to the greatest extent possible.

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