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Iowa Fires Warning Shot Across Bow of Roe v. Wade with Heartbeat Bill

iowa abortion ban bill signed

Fifty-one years ago, Susan Morledge had an abortion for what she described as “medical reasons.” Now, the 70-year-old mother of two adult children told the Des Moines Register she supports Iowa’s new abortion law, which will be the strictest in the nation.

“To me, a heartbeat means a baby is alive,” said Morledge.

Sara Nolta, another Iowa resident, said she’s afraid if the Iowa law isn’t stopped by a judge before it goes into effect as scheduled July 1, the unintended consequences could be disastrous.

“If (lawmakers) somehow think this will end abortions in Iowa — well, that’s just absurd,” said Nolta. “I fear for the other means people will go for to end a pregnancy.”

Both women, while they express the points of view of the two sides of the argument, are missing the big picture. Senate File 359, also known as the “Heartbeat Bill,” was not an end in itself.

“The whole incident is best understood as pre-season training for the pitched battles sure to occur in an awful lot of states if Trump gets another justice and Roe is overturned or significantly modified,” Ed Kilgore concluded in an op-ed written for New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer.

Senate File 359, signed into law by Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds May 4, bars doctors from performing most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is heard. That can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, the Des Moines Register reported. Sometimes the heartbeat can be detected before a woman realizes she’s pregnant.

As far as Reynolds is concerned, the detection of a fetal heartbeat settles the argument over when life begins.

“If death is determined when a heart stops beating, then doesn't a beating heart indicate life?” Reynolds said after signing the legislation, which has been called the most restrictive in the nation.

One thing is certain: as soon as Reynolds wrote her name on the legislation, lawyers for both sides went to work.

Mark Stringer, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa, said the organization’s legal team, along with attorneys from Planned Parenthood, would “sue to strike down this unconstitutional law before it goes into effect on July 1.”

“I am here to tell Gov. Reynolds: We will see you in court,” Suzanna de Baca, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, described May 4 as a “sad day for women and families in Iowa.”

“We now look to the courts to defend our essential human rights,” Hogue said in a statement.

The NARAL press release also made it clear the pro-choice group was expecting the Iowa Heartbeat Bill to be nothing but the first shot fired in a dedicated effort to scrap Roe v. Wade.