July 11 (Reuters) – The Republican-controlled Iowa legislature on Tuesday will consider banning abortions as soon as fetal heart activity is detected, after about six weeks of pregnancy and before most women know they are pregnant .
Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, ordered the special legislative session after the Iowa Supreme Court on June 16 blocked the enactment of a similar measure passed in 2018.
The Midwest state’s highest court deadlocked in a 3-3 decision, leaving abortion legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
However, the three justices who opposed the 2018 reinstatement of the law said they were doing it to avoid legislating from the bench, leading Republican lawmakers to believe they have a good chance of overcoming future challenges by passing a new law now.
Fourteen states have banned the most abortions since the US Supreme Court in June 2022 overturned the landmark case Roe v. Wade of 1973 and deprived the national right to abortion.
Iowa’s 2018 abortion ban was suspended by the courts after about six weeks while Roe v. Wade and similar state constitutional protections used to be in place, but both have now been rescinded.
A draft of Iowa’s new bill calls for abortions with limited exceptions to be banned after heart activity can be detected, weeks before the fetus has developed a real heart.
As it stands, the bill would make some exceptions for rape and incest. Abortions after six weeks would also be permitted in the event of a medical emergency, a fetal anomaly that a doctor deems reasonably incompatible with life, and where continuing the pregnancy would create a serious risk of irreversible damage to the woman’s body.
It would make no exceptions for the pregnant person’s age or any mental health condition.
The state Senate and state House of Representatives were due to start the debate on Tuesday, and it wasn’t clear how long the discussions would last.
Supporters of Iowa’s Planned Parenthood on Monday asked abortion-rights advocates to contact their lawmakers, sign up to speak out against the bill, and rally against the measure in Tuesday’s session.
The Iowa advocacy group Faith and Freedom Coalition has also asked its members to contact their lawmakers to support the bill.
Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis
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