Republicans in the Iowa legislature have added new measures to a recent bill that is seeking to ban most abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy. The newly-filed legislation, the so-called “heartbeat bill,” would prohibit abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks. If enacted, the legislation would impose the strictest restrictions on women’s reproductive rights in the country.
While the Democrats have been quick to criticize the bill, with Democratic Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell referring to it as “an all-out assault on women and a sneak attack from Republicans at the last minute,” they will be powerless to stop it if it secures enough Republican support within the GOP-led House. Nonetheless, if the new bill is passed it will still need floor votes in both chambers before it can be sent to Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s desk. His office refrained from commenting on the bill, saying he wanted to see the legislation in full first, but reiterated the governor is “very pro-life.”
Among the amendments includes the stipulation that a pregnant woman will need to way 72 hours, or several days, before she can access an abortion; state health officials would be required to provide reading material to encourage women to choose adoption over abortion; a woman, her spouse or the parents of a woman if she was a minor could all sit a doctor, in certain circumstances, for carrying out an abortion; a woman would need to sign a legal document acknowledging that she was aware a heartbeat had been found.
Planned Parenthood spokesperson Rachel Lopez issued a statement calling the measure the “most extreme and overreaching abortion legislation ever introduced in Iowa.” Last December, Ohio lawmakers passed a similar bill, sparking controversy, which was sent to Governor John Kasich. Kasich, who also has a reputation for being stridently pro-life, vetoed the measure, saying the divisive law would certainly be challenged in the courts and the state would rack up high legal costs trying to defend it.
Read the full story at The Associated Press.