After it’s signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa will have a new, strict abortion law that prohibits abortion before most people know they’re pregnant.
Because of that, a lot of people are confused about what they should do, where they should look, and what options they have to obtain abortion care.
The new law—which does not provide penalties directly but leaves enforcement up to the Iowa Board of Medicine—requires doctor to perform an abdominal ultrasound to detect electrical activity in the embryo.
The law calls this a “fetal heartbeat,” though scientifically it’s not a physical heart beating—and the pregnancy is still an embryo, not a fetus.
If electrical activity is found, the law says that doctors can’t perform an abortion. This happens about six to eight weeks into the pregnancy, before most people know they’re pregnant. And with the lack of maternal health care providers in Iowa, very few would be able to get an appointment in time.
Perform means both surgical abortions and administering abortion medication.
The new law passed despite 61% of Iowans saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and hours of testimony Tuesday about how restricting health care harms patients whether they’re actively seeking an abortion or not.
But Iowans do still have options for getting an abortion. Here’s how:
You Can Travel
Minnesota and Illinois both have strong abortion protections and have been serving people in other anti-abortion states. Both states have laws to protect people seeking abortions from out-of-state.
Iowa does not have any laws restricting the ability to travel or penalizing people from seeking abortions elsewhere. If you have concerns about the government finding your internet searches, use a privacy-friendly browser like Firefox and a privacy-friendly search engine such as Duck Duck Go.
Note that Nebraska recently passed a 12-week abortion ban. A lawsuit was filed, but the law is in effect for now.
You Can Get Pills
If you’re at the 12-week mark or less in your pregnancy, you can use medication to manage your abortion yourself. The pills are effective and safe, though they’re less effective past the 12-week point.
To get pills, you can connect with a doctor in a state without abortion restrictions for a telehealth appointment. The pills will then be delivered to whatever address you provide.
Self-managed abortions are safe, 98% effective, and approved by the Federal Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. Receiving abortion pills in the mail is still legal.
You Have Resources
If you have more questions, Planned Parenthood still offers abortion navigators who can help you find exactly what you need, and help you figure out what (and where) that is.
If you don’t know where to look, a few online resources can help you figure out which abortion clinics you’re closest to, or list your options for obtaining abortion pills. There are services that mail abortion pills to patients or connect patients with resources to find pills or clinics.
If you need financial help, the Iowa Abortion Access Fund is also still available. To get help, tell the abortion clinic you’re using that you need financial assistance. The clinic will then give you the phone number to the Abortion Access Fund.
Leave a detailed voicemail when you call the Fund and expect a return call. The fund will work directly with you and the clinic to provide whatever help you need.
*UPDATE: added clarifying information about Nebraska’s abortion ban and that doctors are prohibited from doing surgical or medical abortions.
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