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Iowa governor signs 'heartbeat' bill banning most abortions

H10 iowa abortion1

The six week ban on abortion in Iowa comes before most women know that they're pregnant.

The measure was passed with almost back-to-back chamber votes along party lines, culminating in approval in the Senate shortly after 2 a.m.

Governor Kim Reynolds said signed Senate File 359 into law Friday afternoon.

Now the bill will head to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who will need to sign the legislation before it can become law.

Iowa is just the latest battleground in the fight over access to abortions.

What new restrictions have been approved?

The "heartbeat bill", as it has come to be known in the U.S., requires women to have an ultrasound to screen for a foetal heartbeat before they can receive an abortion.

Planned Parenthood, the country's largest abortion provider, is vehemently opposed to the conservative legisalation.

The Iowa legislation has some exemptions, such as in the case of rape or incest or if a woman's life is at risk.

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Republican lawmakers are eager to advance pro-life causes ahead of the election race in case they lose their majorities.

"We are alive when our hearts start beating and our life is over when it stops", Dawn Pettengil, another Republican Representative from Iowa, told CBS News.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has introduced the Heartbeat Protection Act, a similar proposal, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Laura Belin, publisher of Bleeding Heartland, an Iowa politics website, would be "shocked" if Ms Reynolds vetoes the bill.

"Today's actions to ban abortion are an embarrassment to Iowa and they will remain a blemish on our state for the foreseeable future", said the group known as the Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa in a statement cited this week at The Washington Post. It is the earliest abortion ban in the United States.

Many Iowa legislators expected the "heartbeat" abortion ban to trigger a lawsuit, and they will have an uphill battle to defend it.

The ruling states some women have a right to terminate pregnancies until a foetus is viable.

No, in fact some Republican lawmakers welcomed the challenge.

Reynolds had not previously said whether she would approve the legislation, but noted: "I'm pro-life". Rick Bertrand echoed a similar refrain, claiming the bill is "100 percent" meant to give conservatives "a run at Roe v. Wade". 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.

Abortion opponents hope Republican President Donald Trump soon will have an opportunity to appoint at least one more conservative justice - thus tilting the high court's ideological balance in their favor.

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