DES MOINES — A district court judge has ruled Iowa’s so-called “fetal heartbeat” law is unconstitutional.

Last May, Governor Kim Reynolds signed the law to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat may be detected, which happens in about the sixth week of a pregnancy. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa immediately challenged the law in court.

Governor Reynolds issued a written statement late Tuesday afternoon, saying a “beating heart indicates life” and she’s “incredibly disappointed” by the ruling. Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines who’s a leading critic of the proposal, also issued a statement. Petersen called the law “extreme” and says it “forced motherhood” on Iowa women and girls.

Last summer the Iowa Supreme Court ruled a 72-hour waiting period for abortions was unconstitutional. There’s no word yet on whether the state’s highest court will be asked to rule on the constitutionality of the fetal heartbeat law.

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