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Iowa Senate panel gives preliminary OK to heartbeat bill

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Des Moines Capitol Building

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Republican-led legislative panel has approved a bill that would ban most abortions in Iowa once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The bill would make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions after detecting a fetal heartbeat, which occurs as early as at six weeks of pregnancy. Two Republicans on a three-person Senate subcommittee advanced the bill Thursday, and a committee vote is expected next week.

If the measure becomes law, it likely would be appealed by opponents who would argue it violates U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

The legislation comes less than one year after the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature banned most abortions in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy. A three-day waiting period on women seeking the procedure is not in effect amid ongoing litigation.