Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad is advising his fellow Republicans to avoid passing an abortion ban that would prompt a lengthy court battle and, perhaps, never take effect.

Last week, Republicans on a committee in the Iowa House endorsed a ban on nearly all abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, tabling a separate abortion restriction that would have started at about the sixth of a pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

“The chances of that legislation that would start with the heartbeat is probably not going to be approved in the courts. It’s not been approved by courts in other states,” Branstad said Thursday afternoon during a news conference in his statehouse office. “We don’t want to give Planned Parenthood another victory in the courts”

Branstad said House Republicans have made the right decision to pursue an abortion ban that starts at the 20th week of pregnancy, similar to a bill that’s already cleared the Republican-led Iowa Senate.

“I think the 20-week provision…is a step forward to protect human life,” Branstad told reporters.

Republican legislators are also planning to “defund” Planned Parenthood. The Senate passed a bill to do that earlier this year. House Republicans support the move, but plan to address the issue in a budget bill — outlining that no state tax dollars may be spent on Medicaid patients who go to Planned Parenthood for reproductive health exams, contraception or cancer screenings.

“(I’m) very encouraged,” Branstad said. “This is going to be the most pro-life session in a long time.”

Critics say they’re not giving up on efforts in the legislature — or the courts — to try to stop these proposals. Late last week, Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, spoke to Planned Parenthood supporters who showed up at the capitol Wednesday night dressed in pink, carrying posters.

“I just want to say thank you so much for being here,” Wessel-Kroeschell said. “…We have the public eye on this.”

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland issued a statement Friday, calling Republicans in the legislature “women-hating…zealots” who are “on the warpath” to prevent women from making their own health care decisions.