Use quotes to search for exact phrases. Use AND/OR/NOT between keywords or phrases for more precise search results.

Iowa Heartbeat Abortion Ban (SF 359)

This law was last updated on Jan 28, 2019

This law is Anti–Choice




SF 359




Feb 27, 2017


Fetal Tissue, Forced Ultrasound, Heartbeat Bans

Full Bill Text

SF 359 would prohibit the performance of an abortion from the time a fetus has a detectable heartbeat.

A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy—two weeks after a person’s first missed period—and well before many even realize that they are pregnant.

Except in the case of a medical emergency or when the abortion is medically necessary, the bill would prohibit abortions without a check for a fetal heartbeat, or if a fetal heartbeat is detectable.

In testing for a detectable heartbeat, the physician would be required to perform an abdominal ultrasound.

Following the testing of the pregnant person for a detectable fetal heartbeat, the physician would need to inform the pregnant person, in writing, of all of the following:

  • Whether a fetal heartbeat was detected.
  • That if a fetal heartbeat was detected, an abortion is prohibited.

The bill would prohibit a physician from performing or attempting to perform an abortion when it has been determined that the fetus has a detectable heartbeat, unless a medical emergency exists, or the abortion is medically necessary.

Examples of when an abortion is “medically necessary” include:

  • The pregnancy is a result of rape and is reported within 45 days after the incident to a law enforcement agency or health agency;
  • The pregnancy is a result of incest and is reported within 140 days after the incident to a law enforcement agency or health agency;
  • A miscarriage; or
  • The attending physician certifies that the fetus has a fetal abnormality that is incompatible with life.

If the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is determined to be twenty or more weeks, the “medically necessary” exceptions would not apply.

Fetal Tissue Use

SF 359 would prohibit a person from knowingly acquiring, providing, receiving, otherwise transferring, or using a fetal body part, regardless of whether the acquisition, provision, receipt, or use is for valuable consideration.

This would not apply to:

  • diagnostic or remedial tests, procedures, or observations which have the sole purpose of determining the life or health of the fetus in order to provide that information to the pregnant patient or to preserve the life or health of the fetus or pregnant patient;
  • the actions of a person taken in the furtherance of the final disposition of a fetal body part;
  • the pathological study of body tissue, including genetic testing, for diagnostic or forensic purposes; or
  • fetal tissue obtained from a miscarriage that is willingly donated for the purpose of medical research.

A person who violates this provision would be guilty of a class “C” felony. A class “C” felony is punishable by confinement for no more than 10 years and a fine of at least $1,000 but not more than $10,000.

Sponsored by the Senate Human Resources Committee.

Related Legislation

Formerly SF 52.

Similar to HF 2163 and SF 2281, which were introduced in 2018.


The bill was introduced as a prohibition on the transfer of fetal body tissue.

That version passed the senate on March 22, 2017, by a 43-6 vote.

The bill was amended in the house to include the ban on abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The amended version passed the house on May 1, 2018, by a 51-46 vote.

The amended version passed the senate on May 2, 2018, by a 29-17 vote.

Signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on May 4, 2018.

Update #1

6/1/2018 – Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert granted a temporary injunction stopping the law from being enforced while the lawsuit works its way through the courts.

Update #2

1/22/19 – Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert ruled the law unconstitutional.

Legal Cases