Iowa Republicans are advancing a bill that would ban most abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks. There are also some unusual additions to this "heartbeat" bill.
A number of people could sue to stop an abortion if the bill passes, reports The Associated Press. The text of the bill says a woman's spouse, the parents of a female under the age of 18 or the parents of an unmarried woman could all sue to stop a doctor from performing an abortion:
A cause of action for injunctive relief to prevent a physician from performing abortions may be maintained against a physician who has intentionally violated this chapter by the woman upon whom the abortion was performed or attempted to be performed, by the spouse of the woman, by a parent or guardian of the woman if the woman is less than eighteen years of age or unmarried at the time the abortion was performed or attempted to be performed, by a current or former licensed health care provider of the woman, by a county attorney with appropriate jurisdiction, or by the attorney general.
The Iowa House Democrats noted this part in a tweet on March 29: "The GOP’s 6 wk abortion ban dropped & it actually allows the parents of an adult unmarried women to make medical decisions for her."
The bill would also ban most abortions past 20 weeks.
Democratic state Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell said during a press conference on March 28: "This is an all-out assault on women and a sneak attack from Republicans at the last minute," reports AP.
Republican state Rep. Shannon Lundgren countered: "Overall, we are a pro-life caucus. We've been talking about running a bill through our committee since the beginning of session. Republicans ran on pro-life issues."
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland spokeswoman Rachel Lopez called the bill the "most extreme and overreaching abortion legislation ever introduced in Iowa."
Ben Hammes, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa, said in an email to the AP: "Obviously, Gov. Branstad is very pro-life. But until we see legislation in its final form, we will reserve judgment."
There are more restrictions for legal abortions in the bill: a woman would have to wait 72 hours before getting an abortion; state officials would have to make available to a woman some literature that promotes adoption over abortion; a woman would have to sign a document that acknowledges that she was told there was fetal heartbeat and was told about the statistics of giving birth.