How Alabama’s abortion laws affect Iowa


Tony Webster via Wikimedia

A billboard depicting pro-life ideas stands beside a highway in Pella, Iowa.

Kaitlyn Ryan, Student Life Editor

Recent controversies regarding Alabama’s new abortion law has sparked the abortion debate once again. The passing of the law has many implications for both Iowa and America.

Before attempting to understand the most current abortion policies, one must examine previous related legislation.

More restrictive laws began with heartbeat bills–but these were quite subjective. Depending on the type of ultrasound used, a “heartbeat” could be detected from 6 to 12 weeks. A transvaginal ultrasound picks up the first murmurs of cardiac activity–not technically a heartbeat–at 6 weeks, while abdominal ultrasounds can’t detect the fetal heartbeat until 12 weeks. Whether or not a woman is able to get an abortion depends on which type of ultrasound the doctor chooses.

Senior Emily Arndt viewed this muddled interpretation as another reason against regulatory abortion laws. “The government has too much reach into choices that should be for women privately,” Arndt said. “Given that some women do not even know they are pregnant at 6 weeks, it seems crazy that they would have the option of an abortion already taken away.”

Since Iowa’s governor, Kim Reynolds, and other representatives are Republican, there is a real possibility that more restrictive abortion laws are to come. Iowa passed its own version of a heartbeat bill in May of 2018, and it is now one of six states that are considering a bill similar to the one Alabama recently passed.

Alabama’s law will ban abortions at all stages, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The legislation has not taken effect yet, but it is slated to be enforced in January. Some organizations, such as the Alabama Women’s Center, hopes to prevent this and plan to challenge it in court.

Republican legislators welcome the lawsuits; they create opportunities to overturn Roe v. Wade, a court case which protects the rights and privacy of women to choose an abortion. Reynolds offered encouragement to pro-life supporters when she said their efforts were, “shifting the direction of the Supreme Court.” Challenging Roe v. Wade is a main goal of politicians across the country.

In 2019 alone, a dozen states have at least attempted to pass more restrictive abortion legislation. Arndt views this statistic with trepidation. “There’s a reason for Roe v. Wade,” she said. “Desperate women will use dangerous at-home techniques–these laws only ban safe and medically supervised abortions.”

The newest abortion laws created a tumultuous political climate that is evidenced by the number of students sharing their views across social media. Members on both sides of the political spectrum are poised to speak up for their beliefs and influence their politicians; it appears some kind of change may be on the horizon.