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Iowa Judge Rules That the State's Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Law Is Unconstitutional

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

An Iowa judge struck down a law Tuesday that prohibited abortion after the pre-born child’s heartbeat is detected – which typically occurs at roughly six weeks of pregnancy. The law would have been the earliest abortion ban in the country.


Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the law in May and Planned Parenthood sued.

Judge Michael Huppert of the 5th Judicial District of Iowa, who temporarily blocked the measure in June, ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood and declared that the law was “violative of both the due process and equal protection provisions of the Iowa Constitution as not being narrowly tailored to serve the compelling state interest of promoting potential life.”

In his decision, he argued that fetal viability was what mattered in this case.

“Regardless of when precisely when a fetal heartbeat may be detected in a given pregnancy, it is undisputed that such cardiac activity is detectable well in advance of the fetus becoming viable,” he wrote.

“Viability is not only material to this case, it is dispositive on the present record,” he argued, referencing the Supreme Court’s language in Roe v. Wade.


“The court held that the state’s interest in promoting potential life may only be used to regulate (even to the point of proscription) postviability abortions,” he argued, “except where it is necessary in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds released a statement Tuesday expressing her disappointment in the ruling.

“I am incredibly disappointed in today’s court ruling, because I believe that if death is determined when a heart stops beating, then a beating heart indicates life,” she said.

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