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Iowa GOP Lawmakers Pass Yet Another Abortion Ban in Special Late-Night Session

The six-week abortion ban replaces an earlier ban that is currently being blocked by a judge’s order.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 26, 2020.

The Iowa state legislature passed an anti-abortion bill late on Tuesday night, following a rushed consideration of the measure during a one-day special session that was convened by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The bill, which bars abortions in the state after the six-week mark of pregnancy — a timeframe during which many people may not even realize they are pregnant — passed just after 11 p.m., following a marathon 15 hours of procedural debate and motions in both chambers of the state legislature.

Reynolds has indicated she will sign the bill into law, which will go into effect immediately after she does so, unless a court order blocks it.

The bill seeks to reinstate a previously passed six-week abortion ban, which was put on the books in 2019 as a “trigger bill” in the event that abortion protections recognized under Roe v. Wade got overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, which happened last year. A state court blocked the implementation of that law, and earlier this year, the state Supreme Court deadlocked on whether to overturn the lower court’s order, effectively keeping the injunction in place for the time being, allowing abortions to be carried out up to the 22nd week of pregnancy.

The new six-week ban only allows abortions to happen beyond that time if there is a life-threatening situation for a person who is pregnant. It also allows for abortions in cases of rape or incest, but only up to 45 days after a rape and 140 days for an instance of incest, and only if a person has filed a report either with the police or a “health agency,” such as a doctor.

During the special session, hundreds of activists from across the state came to the Iowa capitol building to voice their dissatisfaction with the legislation. Some demonstrators shouted from the Senate gallery, for example, and were physically removed by police.

Demonstrators in that chamber also shouted loudly when the measure was announced to have passed.

Within the capitol rotunda, protesters also held up signs and shouted loudly against the proposed bill, chanting “Shame!” toward GOP legislators as they propelled it forward at breakneck pace.

Most Iowans likely oppose the measure, polling has demonstrated. A survey conducted by The Des Moines Register, for example, and published in March, showed that 61 percent of Iowa residents believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with only 35 percent voicing the opposite view that more restrictions should be imposed or that abortion should be illegal altogether.

Abortion rights groups decried the passage of the bill, promising to bring forward another round of legal challenges.

“Today’s action from the legislature is a frank and gross disregard for the growing majority of Iowans that support safe, legal abortion,” Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa tweeted just after the bill was passed. “Iowans deserve better.”

The ACLU of Iowa also voiced disgust with the new law.

“The ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic remain committed to protecting the reproductive rights of Iowans to control their bodies and their lives, their health and their safety – including filing a lawsuit to block this reckless, cruel law,” said ACLU of Iowa’s executive director Mark Stringer.

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