The six-week ban is virtually identical to a 2018 law permanently blocked by state courts.
Des Moines, Iowa — Today, the Iowa legislature passed HF 732, an abortion ban starting at approximately six weeks of pregnancy that would immediately ban nearly all abortions in Iowa with only narrow, unworkable exceptions.
Gov. Kim Reynolds, who called a special session of the legislature on abortion last week, is expected to sign the bill soon. Abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood North Central States, the Emma Goldman Clinic, and the ACLU of Iowa have pledged to challenge the law in state court.
This ban will block nearly all abortions in the state, severely limiting access to critical reproductive health care. This latest ban on abortion is virtually identical to the 2018 law that a district court declared unconstitutional and that the Iowa Supreme Court kept permanently struck down just weeks ago.
In direct response to the Iowa Supreme Court's action, Gov. Reynolds called the one-day special session specifically to re-enact the blocked ban. The move is only the latest in Iowa politicians’ attacks on reproductive freedom. From eliminating funding for sexual and reproductive health care, to allocating millions of dollars for deceptive anti-abortion centers, the Iowa legislature and the Reynolds administration have repeatedly gone against the will of Iowa voters, of which the majority support abortion rights.
The bill contains extremely limited exceptions for the life and physical health of a pregnant person throughout pregnancy. The bill also purports to provide so-called exceptions to the ban for certain survivors of rape and incest, those experiencing miscarriage, and those with particular fetal diagnoses. However, each exception includes barriers to care, and the reality is that abortion will be largely unavailable for most vulnerable Iowans that might try to rely upon these exceptions.
Even in cases where a patient's life is at risk, physicians will lack the legal certainty they need to immediately provide the best care to patients with serious reproductive or pregnancy complications. The experiences of patients and providers across the country have demonstrated that so-called exceptions like those in Iowa's abortion ban are unworkable, put patients' lives at risk, and further deprive people of their reproductive freedom.
Politicians have called this bill a "heartbeat bill," but make no mistake: the term "fetal heartbeat" is not only factually inaccurate, but purposefully misleading. Medical experts agree that the fetal cardiac activity detectable early in pregnancy is not accurately described as a heartbeat, and the Associated Press recommends that these bills be described as what they are: bans on abortion at the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
"Once again, anti-abortion Iowa lawmakers contradicted the will of their constituents and disregarded the state constitution to ban abortion," said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Instead of focusing on the needs of their constituents, they called a special session with the sole purpose of inflicting cruelty on Iowans. Today, Iowans have been denied the freedom to decide what is best for their own lives and futures. Inevitably, the brunt of harm will fall on Black, Latino, and Indigenous Iowans; Iowans with lower incomes; and Iowans who live in rural areas. Planned Parenthood will not stand for this. We will see Gov. Reynolds in court."
"The abortion ban the Iowa Legislature passed today is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom," said Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States. "My heart breaks for patients who will be denied health care, for the people who cannot afford to travel out of state. This ban will widen already unacceptable health inequities. Iowans deserve to decide what's best for their bodies and futures. This is not the end of our fight for safe and legal abortion and reproductive health care. We will exhaust all options to ensure Iowans have control of their bodily autonomy, now and for generations to come."
"Today marks a staggering loss for Iowans, who have lost control over their bodily autonomy and futures. We are appalled and disappointed that the Iowa Legislature and the governor are playing doctor by inserting themselves into exam rooms where they don't belong. They are not doctors and have no medical expertise," said Francine Thompson, executive director of the Emma Goldman Clinic. "The Emma Goldman Clinic has been providing reproductive health care in Iowa for 50 years and we stand strongly in solidarity with Iowans in need of abortion care. We will remain committed to and will not stop our fight to restore Iowans' fundamental right to reproductive freedom. We deserve better as a state and our future generations deserve better."
"This law is deeply cruel and callously puts the lives and health of Iowans at risk," said Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa. "It's appalling that the Legislature has gone into special session to pass a nearly identical abortion ban to the one permanently blocked by the courts. In doing so, the Iowa Legislature took less time to pass this law than the minimum 24-hour waiting period they require of Iowa women prior to getting abortion care. Rather than seeking to address some of the many failures of that past legislation, they have doubled down, adding an emergency effective date that ensures chaos and harm until the courts put a block on this law. This is a nearly all-out ban on abortion in Iowa. Every day this law is in effect, Iowans will face life-threatening barriers to get desperately needed medical care—just as we have seen in other states with similar bans. Every legislator who voted for this should feel ashamed for putting their own political expediency over the will of the people, as well as Iowans' rights to bodily autonomy, health, and safety. But we will not stop fighting to protect Iowans’ right to abortion."