Iowa legislators on Wednesday passed a bill that would ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected—meaning most women would not be able to get an abortion by the sixth week of pregnancy. The Des Moines Register says most abortions would be banned under the legislation; critics say many women wouldn't even know they're pregnant at that point. It would be the nation's strictest abortion law, and if Gov. Kim Reynolds signs it, legal challenges are expected that could go as far as the Supreme Court. "This law, if signed, I believe could very well be the very bill that overturns Roe v. Wade," said one Republican state Senator. Reynolds, a Republican, hasn't indicated whether she'll sign, the Hill reports.
The so-called "heartbeat bill" passed during a middle-of-the-night vote after hours of what the Register calls "heated debate." The bill allows exceptions in cases where the mother's life is in danger; the mother was raped and reported it within 45 days; the mother was the victim of incest and reported it within 140 days; a physician certifies the fetus is incompatible with life; or the mother miscarries and not all products of conception are expelled. "Gov. Reynolds is 100% pro-life and will never stop fighting for the unborn," said her spokeswoman Wednesday morning. "The governor's office has not received the bill from the legislature to review it. The governor does not comment on any bill until she sees it in its final form." Currently, Iowa law bans most abortions after 20 weeks. (Read more abortion stories.)