New Developments in Iowa's Abortion Legislation: An In-Depth Look

Jul 11, 2023

The Iowa legislature has passed a new bill limiting the rights of Iowans. A woman’s right to make her own medical decisions is now extremely limited. Read on to learn the details, but if you just need a quick summary, here are the highlights:

  • Victims of rape and incest cannot receive certain healthcare without reporting their assault within a certain amount of time;
  • A woman cannot receive an abortion after six weeks from the date of conception;
  • When a woman’s health is jeopardized by pregnancy, a doctor gets to decide whether she has to risk her life to give birth.

These laws may be unconstitutional. Community Law Office will do everything possible to ensure the Court address these new laws that erode the freedoms of Iowans.

The legal landscape is forever evolving and shifting, just like the tides in the sea. On Tuesday, July 11, 2023, a new wave washed over Iowa when the legislature met for a special session. Their task? To pass a bill limiting abortions after the first six weeks.

Governor Reynolds called this special session on July 5, 2023. This was in response to the Iowa Supreme Court's decision to maintain a five-year injunction on the "fetal heartbeat law", first introduced in 2018. In their decision, the Supreme Court noted the unsettling irony “that trash set out in a garbage can for collection is entitled to more constitutional protections than a woman’s interest in autonomy and dominion over her own body.”

As the evening of July 11, 2023 pressed on, the House took a crucial step. They suspended the typical rules regarding committee notice and agenda before casting their votes on the bill. Furthermore, they voted to cap all debates on this topic by 10:00 pm on that Tuesday. This effectively limited Democrat’s ability to fight against the bill on behalf of their constituents.

Despite a challenging debate, the bill eventually passed. The Republican-super majority legislature voted in favor: 56-34 in the House and 32-17 in the Senate. The bill includes exceptions for certain situations, such as rape, incest, miscarriage, and fetal abnormalities. However, the language of the bill does not explicitly define rape and incest.

The bill mandates an abdominal ultrasound before any abortion procedure. If a cardiac rhythm is detected in the fetus, the law prohibits an abortion. The physician must provide the woman with a written statement regarding the findings, and she must acknowledge it with her signature.

Another notable clause in the bill allows for an exception in the case of a "medical emergency," as determined by the attending physician. The law firmly states that no abortion can take place after 20 weeks unless a medical emergency is present.

Numerous amendments were proposed and subsequently rejected during Tuesday's session. These included amendments that would clarify the bill's stance on contraception, in vitro fertilization, the definition of rape and incest, and postpartum Medicaid coverage, among others.

The waves of this change will undeniably have far-reaching effects. As always, it is critical to remain informed about these evolving laws, and to understand the impacts they might have on our lives. Understanding the implications of such legislation can be complex, so seeking legal advice can be a wise step.

(Note: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.)