The FFRF Action Fund condemns the Iowa Legislature’s passage last night of a six-week abortion ban during a special session called for this purpose by Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Christian nationalist.
Reynolds and Iowa legislators took up this special session to reinstate a bill that would “protect unborn babies from abortion once a heartbeat was detectable.” The false belief that a heartbeat is present in an embryo at six weeks has been roundly debunked by many experts. Iowans do not support this dangerous and unscientific bill, and the Legislature knows it. Just as they passed an unpopular private school voucher bill earlier this year, Iowa legislators are dodging public accountability. This is fundamentally undemocratic.
Here’s how Iowa got here: Back in 2018, before the U.S. Supreme Court tragically overturned Roe v. Wade, Reynolds signed into law what was known as the “Fetal Heartbeat Bill” that restricted abortion access after six weeks of pregnancy. A lower court in Iowa issued an injunction, citing Roe v. Wade (which, at the time of the ruling, was still good law). Citing proper precedent at the time, and a refreshingly noble attempt to avoid legislating from the bench, the Iowa Supreme Court in June deadlocked on the ban, blocking its enforcement. However, three of the judges made it clear that if the Legislature were to bring up the law again, the court would not be a barrier to enacting the law.
Iowa legislators, a supermajority of whom are Republicans, saw an opportunity and pounced. They immediately revitalized the six-week abortion ban, and despite public opinion and their duty to their constituents, passed it late into the night yesterday, July 11. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is: States across the country have gone to great lengths to push their religiously motivated, anti-abortion agenda on constituents who simply do not support such measures. North Carolina forced an unwanted abortion bill on its constituents despite major opposition to the legislation. The same is true in Nebraska. Now Iowa has followed suit. Reynolds and her puppets in the Legislature have just inflicted great harm on Iowans statewide. This is truly a tragic outcome for those who never wanted the ban, who never asked for it, and in a state where abortion was already illegal after 20 weeks.
“Americans do not support these theocratic restrictions on reproductive rights, and will not tolerate them,” says FFRF Action Fund President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Support of abortion rights is going to be a key issue in 2024 elections.This ban is dangerous, unscientific and undemocratic.”
The FFRF Action Fund will continue to sound the alarm on authoritarian edicts issued by Christian nationalist legislators in Iowa and elsewhere. Nonreligious Americans, who as a group are the most supportive of abortion rights, must stand up and make our voices heard.
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues. FFRF Action Fund serves as the advocacy arm of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has more than 40,000 members and works to keep religion out of government and educate the public about nontheism.