Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Iowa Abortion Laws


Abortion is legal in Iowa until about 20 weeks. A 2023 law that would ban abortion after 6 weeks in most circumstances has been blocked in court by a temporary injunction.  Litigation remains pending at the Iowa Supreme Court.  The blocked law is a fetal heartbeat law.  It bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically occurs at a fetal gestational age of 6 weeks. Thereafter, abortion would only be legal in cases of medical emergencies or timely reported cases of rape or incest.


Since the Supreme Court decided Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on June 24, 2022, states are free to construct their abortion laws in different ways to regulate access, timing, waiting periods, notice, and consent surrounding the procedure. They can even prohibit abortion entirely. These statutes (laws) can vary state-to-state, and they can be difficult to understand, so it is important to know which statutes apply to where you live. This is an introduction to abortion laws in Iowa.

On July 14, 2023, the governor of Iowa signed a fetal heartbeat abortion ban, subject to certain limited exceptions. An Iowa state judge issued an injunction on July 17, 2023, which stopped the new law from taking effect. 

Iowa Statutes

The Iowa statute (now on hold) provides that except in cases of a medical emergency or when a fetal heartbeat exception exists, no abortion can be performed unless the physician has tested the woman with an abdominal ultrasound to see if a heartbeat is detectable. The physician must then inform the woman in writing the results and, if a heartbeat was detected, that an abortion is prohibited. The woman must sign an acknowledgment form, which shall be retained in her medical records.

The chart below lists the details of Iowa's abortion statutes.

Code Section

Iowa Code Section 146E.1 et seq.

Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion


 "Abortion" means the termination of a human pregnancy with the intent other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus.

A physician shall not perform an abortion upon a pregnant woman when it has been determined that the unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat, unless, in the physician's reasonable medical judgment, a medical emergency or fetal heartbeat exception exists.

Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion

Abortion is legal before a fetal heartbeat is detected. Thereafter, it is legal only in cases of medical emergencies or in timely reported cases of rape or incest. 

Penalty for Unlawful Abortion

Class C felony (attempted feticide-Class D felony)

Consent Requirements


Residency Requirements for Patients


Physician Licensing Requirements

Licensed M.D.

The Supreme Court deemed the right to a legal abortion was protected under the Constitution (within certain limits) in Roe v. Wade in 1973, but overruled that decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. Dobbs returned to the states the power to regulate, even prohibit, abortion. State abortion laws have continued to evolve over the years, including the imposition of waiting periods, counseling, required sonograms, and other requirements.

This area of the law is highly fluid.

Iowa Abortion Laws: Related Resources

Deciding whether or not to get an abortion can be emotionally complicated, and legally as well. You can find additional articles and resources in FindLaw's sections on Abortion, Birth Control, and Health Care Law. You can also consult with an Iowa health care attorney if you would like legal advice regarding an abortion issue.

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select
Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options