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Iowa Governor Signs Restrictive Abortion Ban Known as ‘Heartbeat Bill’

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation on Friday that prohibits doctors from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Kim Reynolds speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Kim Reynolds speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The legislation, which has been called “the heartbeat bill,” has been widely described as the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban.

Iowa’s Republican-controlled legislature passed the legislation earlier this week. The legislation, Senate File 359, states that except in medical emergencies, doctors are not allowed to perform an abortion before testing for a fetal heartbeat. It requires a physician to notify the woman seeking an abortion in writing whether a heartbeat is detected and that abortion is barred in the event that it is detected.

The governor signed the legislation Friday afternoon at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.

Legal challenges are virtually guaranteed to follow.

Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa called the ban “unconstitutional” after its passage by the state legislature and warned that if the governor signed the bill, it would trigger “an expensive, lengthy legal battle.”

Some Iowa Republican lawmakers hope that the legislation is eventually taken up by the Supreme Court as part of an effort to challenge Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

“This bill will be the vehicle that will ultimately provide change and provide the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Iowa Republican state senator Rick Bertrand said of the legislation during floor debate. “There’s nothing hidden here about the agenda. You know, today the pro-life movement won a battle, but the war rages on.”