“This week, in a rare and historic special session, the Iowa legislature voted for a second time to reject the inhumanity of abortion and pass the fetal heartbeat law,” Reynolds, a Republican, said ahead of signing the bill at the Family Leadership Summit to a round of applause.
She later added: “All life is precious and worthy of the protection of our laws.”
The legislation bans abortion past when fetal cardiac activity can be detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for when the life of the mother is in danger, fetal abnormalities that would result in the baby’s death, rapes reported within 45 days, and incest reported within 140 days.
The bill passed Iowa’s Republican-controlled legislature earlier this week and goes into effect immediately.
“The voices of Iowans and their democratically elected representatives cannot be ignored any longer, and justice for the unborn should not be delayed,” Reynolds said in a statement at the time.
Abortion providers have already filed a legal challenge against the ban.
The bill emphasizes that the law is “not to be construed to impose civil or criminal liability on a woman upon whom an abortion is performed in violation of the division.”
However, the bill allows Iowa’s board of medicine leeway on deciding how abortion providers who violate the law should be punished.
Iowa’s “heartbeat” bill is the latest in a string of GOP-led state laws restricting abortion after the Supreme Court in June last year overturned Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion legal nationwide.
Abortion is currently banned throughout pregnancy in 14 states, which have different exceptions depending on the state.
In Georgia, abortion is banned once the unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected, which is around six weeks. Similar “heartbeat” abortion bans in Ohio and South Carolina are stuck in court, so they are not currently in effect. Florida passed a “heartbeat” ban in April that will not take effect until the Florida Supreme Court delivers a ruling on an abortion case about a separate 15-week ban Governor Ron DeSantis approved last year.
Abortion procedures differ depending on how far along the mother is in her pregnancy.
In the first trimester, a woman can often undergo a medication abortion at home, which involves taking the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to cause the uterus to shed its lining and start cramping and bleeding, expelling the baby.