The legislature in Iowa has passed and Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a new and very restrictive abortion measure, requiring any woman seeking an abortion to undergo an abdominal ultrasound, and barring any health care provider from performing the procedure if the ultrasound detects a fetal heartbeat.
Since the Roe v. Wade (1973) decision, abortions have been lawful in every state in the United States, protected by a ‘right to privacy’ that the Justices inferred from the due process clause of the 14th amendment to the Constitution.
Since that time, too, there has been a lot of litigation over what regulations the states can still create governing abortions that will not create an ‘undue burden’ on the exercise of this privacy right.
The Thing to Know:
A heartbeat can usually be detected about six weeks after conception, before many women are even aware of a pregnancy. The framers of the new Iowa law didn’t intend for it to pass the “undue burden” test: they intended it as a direct challenge to the Roe v Wade precedent. They hoped it will be the vehicle by which the abortion rights protection is overturned.