Iowa’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill that now goes to Republican Governor Kim Reynolds to sign into law. The bill has been termed the “Fetal Heartbeat” bill as it outlaws an abortion if a heartbeat of an embryo is detected, often at the six weeks mark. A large number of women are unaware they are pregnant at that time.
The legislation is aimed at triggering a challenge to Roe vs Wade, the overturning of which has been on the conservative agenda for years. They believe that the current makeup of the Supreme Court with a 5-4 conservative majority could sharply curtail abortion access or ban it outright. In Iowa’s last session, a different bill was passed banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. A three-day waiting period for abortions remains on hold amid litigation.
Oklahoma has advanced a bill that would require a pregnant woman to get the written consent of the baby’s father before an abortion could be performed. A controversial moment surrounding cases of rape and incest in the debate over this bill came between Representative (R) George Fought and Representative (D) Cory Williams on the House floor in March.
A federal appeals court, whose territory includes Iowa, rejected heartbeat bills passed in 2013 in North Dakota and Arkansas. The U.S. Supreme Court then declined to review the cases.