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With Sights On Roe v. Wade, Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Invite Legal Challenges


To Iowa now and an issue that's been a hot-button topic for years and that is abortion. On Friday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed into law a measure that's being called the most-restrictive abortion law in the country. That sets the stage for a legal challenge. Iowa Public Radio's Katarina Sostaric reports that that is actually what some anti-abortion activists want.

KATARINA SOSTARIC, BYLINE: The law bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. It allows some limited exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities and to save the life of the mother. Just before signing the bill, surrounded by children and Republican lawmakers with protesters chanting outside, Governor Reynolds said she understands the law will likely be challenged in court.


KIM REYNOLDS: However, this is bigger than just a law. This is about life. And I'm not going to back down from who I am or what I believe in.

SOSTARIC: It's set to go into effect July 1. Susanna de Baca, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, told protesters her organization will sue the state to block the law.


SUSANNA DE BACA: I think many of us never expected that Governor Reynolds would so swiftly jump to sign a bill that is so clearly unconstitutional.

SOSTARIC: Iowa joins a group of states that have been pushing the limits of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal. Some anti-abortion lawmakers in several states have said they're passing laws that invite legal challenges to try to change that. Here's Iowa Republican Senator Rick Bertrand.


RICK BERTRAND: I believe this bill would be the vehicle that will ultimately provide change and provide the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade. There's nothing hidden here about the agenda.

SOSTARIC: Elizabeth Nash at the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for sexual and reproductive rights, says some conservatives are hoping the makeup of the Supreme Court will change in the next few years if a pro-abortion-rights justice steps down.

ELIZABETH NASH: Which means that if there are cases in the pipeline that challenge current standards for abortion rights that any one of those cases could be brought up at a time when the court then becomes more conservative.

SOSTARIC: Other states have abortion restrictions already held up in federal court, and those could make it to the Supreme Court before Iowa's law. For NPR News, I'm Katarina Sostaric in Des Moines.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRAKE'S "9") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Katarina Sostaric is an Iowa City based reporter covering Eastern Iowa for Iowa Public Radio.