Iowa Passes Six-Week Abortion Ban as Protesters Flood Capitol

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The Iowa state legislature on Tuesday night passed a bill that would ban most abortions after only six weeks of pregnancy. The “fetal heartbeat” bill, which would ban the procedure after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo, would be one of the harshest bans in the nation. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign it into law this week.

The House called a special sessions to pass the bill 56-34, with every Democrat and two Republicans opposing it. The Senate passed it 32-17 a few hours later. The governor’s signature will drastically restrict reproductive rights in the state, which currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks after conception.

The votes on Tuesday came amid tense protests at the Capitol in Des Moines, with demonstrators for reproductive rights clashing with abortion opponents.

Iowa passed similar legislation in 2018, but legal challenges prevented it from taking effect. The matter made it to the state Supreme Court. The court’s deadlock prompted Reynolds to call Tuesday’s special session to pass a new version.

Iowa is one of a handful of conservative states to have passed legislation prohibited abortion after six weeks. The ban is part of a nationwide crackdown on reproductive rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade last summer. The heightened restrictions are deeply unpopular, and many have blamed the GOP’s poor performance in the 2022 midterms on the party’s abortion stance. Democrats hope Americans will make their voices heard in 2024, as well.

“They’re going to see why they’re wrong. We’re doing this in the summer because they want us to forget,” Iowa’s Democratic House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst Konfrst told demonstrators on Tuesday, according to the Des Moines Register. “We’re going to fight like hell today. We will show up. We will stand up. And I need you all in this fight.”

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