Iowa is the latest state to pass six-week abortion ban in the US

The new legislation is the latest of anti-abortion laws passed in states across the country.

Iowa’s state legislature voted on Tuesday night (July 11th) to ban most abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy, a time before most people know they are pregnant.

Republican lawmakers, which hold a majority in both the Iowa house and senate, passed the anti-abortion bill after the governor, Kim Reynolds, called a special session to seek a vote on the ban. 

The legislation will take immediate effect after the governor signs it on Friday and will prohibit abortions after the first sign of cardiac activity – usually around six weeks, with some exceptions for cases of rape or incest. It will allow for abortions up until 20 weeks of pregnancy only under certain conditions of medical emergency. Abortions in the state were previously allowed up to 20 weeks.

“The Iowa supreme court questioned whether this legislature would pass the same law they did in 2018, and today they have a clear answer,” Reynolds said in a statement. “The voices of Iowans and their democratically elected representatives cannot be ignored any longer, and justice for the unborn should not be delayed.”

The legislation is the latest in a raft of anti-abortion laws passed in states across the country since the supreme court overturned Roe v Wade last year, ending the nationwide constitutional right to abortion. A number of states, including a number in the southern US, have passed full bans on abortion without exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

During a public hearing on Tuesday before the vote, lawmakers heard from advocates both for and against the bill who gave brief statements in the chambers. A range of medical professionals and reproductive rights activists urged the legislature to reconsider the bill, warning that it would cause immense societal harm, reduce bodily autonomy and prevent physicians from caring for patients.

“You would be forcing a woman to a lifelong obligation which affects her education, career, family and community,” Amy Bingaman, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, told lawmakers.

Advocates of the bill, many from Christian organisations and hardline anti-abortion activist groups, thanked lawmakers during the hearing and touted the bill as a victory for their movement.

WriterChris Saunders
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