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February 5, 2018 (Des Moines, IA) – The Iowa Senate and House have introduced a pair of bills that would outlaw nearly all abortion in the state by making it illegal to terminate a pregnancy the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected – before a woman might even know she is pregnant. Planned Parenthood strongly opposes the abortion ban, which is just the latest move in extreme lawmakers’ anti-women, anti-choice agenda.

“Iowans are fed with up politicians’ ongoing sense of entitlement to tell women what to do with their own bodies,” said Erin Davison-Rippey, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa. “So-called ‘heartbeat protection’ bills are actually bans on safe, legal abortion, and they threaten to set reproductive rights back by decades.”

Both the Senate and House versions of the bill would make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion once a heartbeat is detected through abdominal ultrasound, making it nearly impossible to access abortion. Fetal heartbeat occurs as early as six weeks gestation, dated from the last menstrual period, when most women are still unaware they are pregnant. The bills make a narrow exception only for medical emergency.

“These bills are intentionally unconstitutional, and they’re being introduced in order to challenge Roe v. Wade. Politicians and special interest groups are weaponizing fetal heartbeat, which is by all accounts an arbitrary standard that bans abortion long before the point of fetal viability. These extreme attempts to ban abortion fly in the face of both medical and legal standards, as well as common sense and public opinion among Iowans, who overwhelmingly agree that abortion should remain safe and legal,” said Davison-Rippey.

Planned Parenthood is among a community of medical and legal experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and ACLU, who strongly oppose fetal heartbeat legislation as an unconstitutional, unnecessary interference in the practice of medicine.

“We call on reasonable lawmakers to do the right thing and put a stop to any and all attempts to take our state back to a pre-Roe era through ‘heartbeat’ bills or similarly unconstitutional legislation, such as personhood. Iowa women should not be forced to suffer the dangerous health consequences of a petty, personal agenda, nor should Iowa taxpayers be forced to pay the cost of a divisive, lengthy legal battle.”