Iowa governor signs strictest abortion regulation in US


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds today signed a law banning most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or at about six weeks of pregnancy, marking the strictest abortion regulation in the nation – but setting the state up for a lengthy court fight.

The Republican governor signed the legislation in her formal office at the state Capitol as protesters gathered outside chanting, "My body, my choice!" Reynolds acknowledged the new law would likely face litigation, but said: "This is bigger than just a law, this is about life, and I'm not going to back down." Reynolds has previously said she was "proud to be pro-life."

The ban, set to take effect July 1, has propelled Iowa to the front of a push among conservative statehouses jockeying to enact restrictive regulations on the medical procedure. Mississippi passed a law earlier this year banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but it's on hold after a court challenge.

The Iowa law provides for some exemptions that allow abortions during a later pregnancy stage to save a pregnant woman's life or in some cases of rape and incest.

Maggie DeWitte, who leads the group Iowans for Life, called Reynolds' move "historic."

"We couldn't be more pleased," DeWitte said today. "She is following through on her pledge to the people of Iowa that she is 100 percent pro-life."

The bill signing came shortly after the Iowa affiliates of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union warned that they would sue the governor if she signed the bill, which the Republican-controlled Legislature quickly approved in after-hours votes earlier in the week.

"We will challenge this law with absolutely everything we have on behalf of our patients because Iowa will not go back," Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement.

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