Thanks to middle-of-the-night efforts by Iowa legislators, unborn children in the state may soon receive significant new protections against elective abortions. Earlier this month, the Iowa House and Senate approved a measure to ban almost all abortions when the fetus presents a detectable heartbeat, usually six weeks after conception. Exceptions to the bill concern certain cases of rape or incest.

According to KATU news, the measure passed the Iowa House by a slim 51-46 margin, after nine hours of debate. The restrictive nature of the bill, which includes some of the most stringent protections against abortion in the United States, provoked intense criticism from Iowa Democrats.

“These restrictions do nothing to reduce or eliminate abortion but put roadblocks between a woman and her physician in making the best medical decision for her,” stated Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames). Meanwhile, Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R-Peosta) argued that the bill contains valuable protections for the unborn. “Today we are taking a courageous step . . . to tell the nation that Iowa will defend its most vulnerable, those without a voice, our unborn children,” Lundgren said.

Some Republican officeholders see the measure as a blatant challenge to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. “I don’t think we’re even trying to disguise that,” Sen. Rick Bertrand (R-Sioux City) explained. “Today we will begin this journey as Iowa becomes . . . the starting line back to the Supreme Court.”

Legal battles over Iowa’s new legislation appear inevitable. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which exercises jurisdiction over Iowa, previously rejected a North Dakota statute with similarities to Iowa’s new law.

Pro-abortion advocates argue that such legal disputes will squander taxpayer dollars. Pro-life legislators, meanwhile, hope for a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

Nicholas Comerchero is a junior at Corban University, where he plans to complete his undergraduate degree in political science. Nicholas enjoys thinking, writing, and speaking about public policy and economics.