Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, a Republican, signed a strict abortion ban into law on Friday, even as a judge heard arguments to suspend it.
Ms. Reynolds had vowed to sign the measure that was passed this week by the Legislature. It was immediately challenged in Polk County court by the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, and on Friday those groups were in court seeking to temporarily block the law while their legal case moved forward.
The new law bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant. It takes effect immediately, and dramatically changes abortion access in the state.
“As we gather here today — and at this very moment — the abortion industry is in court trying to prevent this law from taking effect and stop the will of the people once again,” Ms. Reynolds said at the signing.
Pam Jochum, the Democratic leader of the Iowa Senate, called the law a “dangerous attack on Iowa women” on Friday and said that she looked forward to “Iowa courts blocking this law.”
Why It Matters
The change now adds Iowa to a list of Republican-led states that have moved to ban or severely restrict the procedure since the Supreme Court eliminated the national right to abortion last year, sending the matter back to the states to set policy.
The ban also shuts off another area of access for women in the region, as nearby states including Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota also have abortion bans.
More than a dozen states now have bans that prohibit most abortions after conception or very early in pregnancy.
After the state’s previous six-week ban was blocked when a deadlocked Iowa Supreme Court left it unenforceable, Governor Reynolds called a special session on abortion.
Lawmakers returned to the State Capitol and passed a nearly identical set of restrictions on the procedure. Iowa providers and abortion-rights advocates filed suit on Wednesday within hours of the Legislature’s passage, saying it was unconstitutional under the standard of “undue burden.”
The session further cemented Iowa’s sharp political shift to the right, and ended its increasingly rare status as a Republican-led state where abortions are allowed up to 20 weeks post-fertilization, or roughly 22 weeks into pregnancy.
The legislation assumes this is roughly six weeks of pregnancy. The legislation includes exceptions after that point in cases of rape or incest, when the woman’s life is in serious danger or she faces a risk of certain permanent injuries, or when fetal abnormalities “incompatible with life” are present.
If abortion-rights activists prevail in court, the law could be suspended at least temporarily while the legal case proceeds.
Joseph Seidlin, a district court judge in Polk County, said he would not make a ruling on Friday, even as the groups pushing for abortion rights said the law would lead to immediate harms.
Mr. Seidlin said the decision required “strong and lengthy attention,” and making an immediate ruling from the bench would be perceived as a flippant decision.
“I cannot think of anything that would be more insulting to either side,” he said.