Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the country’s most restrictive abortion ban into law Friday afternoon, banning the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy with few exceptions.
“I understand and anticipate that this will likely be challenged in court, and that courts may even put a hold on the law until it reaches the Supreme Court,” Reynolds said in a statement posted on her website. “However, this is bigger than just a law. This is about life. I am not going to back down from who I am or what I believe in.”
Already, Planned Parenthood says that their Iowa affiliate, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, will sue the state over the law. Their legal action is likely to block the law from being implemented as it is litigated. “Gov. Reynolds, we’ll see you in court. We will fight for our patients' rights and access to care with everything we’ve got,” Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood's executive vice president, told BuzzFeed in an emailed statement Friday.
Planned Parenthood and other opponents of the bill argue that it is essentially a complete ban on abortion, as many women do not know they are pregnant until they have missed two periods — about 8 weeks into pregnancy. For women who find out, a recent decline in the number of abortion clinics in Iowa often makes abortions difficult to obtain in a short period of time.
“Politicians in Iowa are hell bent on controlling women’s bodies, taking away our rights, and blocking access to health care. People will not stand for it, and we will not stand for it,” Laguens said in Friday’s statement.
The law, which passed the Republican-controlled state legislature early Wednesday morning, contains exceptions where pregnancy threatens the life of the pregnant woman and for cases where the fetus will not survive birth. It also contains exceptions for cases of rape or incest, but only if the woman reports the rape to the police or a doctor within 45 days of the incident, or, for cases of incest, within 140 days, according to the Des Moines Register.
In recent years, state legislatures across the country have pushed similar bills banning abortions after six weeks and citing a fetus’ heartbeat as a standard, but before Friday none had been signed into law. A similar bill was passed in Ohio in 2016 but was vetoed by Republican Gov. John Kasich.
Last month, Center for Reproductive Rights challenged the previously most restrictive abortion ban law in the country — a 15-week ban signed by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant — on behalf of the state's last remaining abortion clinic. A judge blocked that law soon after its signing, as litigation continues.
In her statement about her decision to sign the law, Reynolds — who has a history of supporting anti-abortion legislation — cited her religious beliefs as the reason for signing a bill that is highly controversial.
“I understand that not everyone will agree with this decision,” the statement reads. “For me, it is immoral to stop an innocent beating heart. For me, it is sickening to sell fetal body parts. For me, my faith leads me to protect every Iowan, no matter how small.”