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Iowa lawmakers vote for strictest abortion law in U.S.

By Sara Shayanian

May 2 (UPI) -- The Iowa legislature voted late Tuesday to advance a bill to ban abortion after six weeks -- in what would become the most restrictive abortion law in the United States.

The Iowa House narrowly approved the controversial bill 51-46, and the Senate passed it by a vote of 29-17.

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Known as the "heartbeat" bill, it requires physicians to conduct an abdominal ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat on women seeking an abortion. If one is detected, the abortion could not be performed.

The proposal has been sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has not indicated whether she will sign it.

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Certain changes, including exceptions to the ban for some victims of rape or incest, brought some lawmakers on board.

Critics argue the measure would only allow abortions during a time when many women don't even realize they are pregnant. The bill is likely to be challenged on whether it goes beyond past Supreme Court rulings -- notably Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

"Gov. Reynolds is 100 percent pro-life and will never stop fighting for the unborn," Reynolds spokeswoman Brenna Smith said. "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."

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Democrats called the legislation "frightening" and "extreme."

"Republicans, you have once again made a choice -- a choice to debate legislation that devalues the bodies and decision-making skills of Iowa women and girls," Democratic Sen. Janet Petersen said.

"None of you went to medical school, yet you Republican politicians are making dangerous medical decisions. This bill tells Iowa women and girls that forced pregnancy is more important than their health and well-being."

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NARAL Pro-Choice in Iowa called the bill "unconstitutional" and an "extreme attack" on women's healthcare rights.

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