Court fight over Iowa's new 'heartbeat' abortion law begins

Aaron Brown
May 16, 2018

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said they filed the lawsuit in Polk County District Court in Des Moines. In Mississippi earlier this year, GOP lawmakers passed a 15-week abortion ban that was signed by Mississippi's Republican governor, but the law was quickly put on hold after a court challenge.

"In the 45 years since Roe, no federal or state court has upheld such a unsafe law", said ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis.

Republicans want the legal challenge to reach the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland President and CEO Suzanna de Baca said Tuesday if the law takes effect July 1, it will have a "devastating effect" on women seeking abortions.

"We think it's extreme and outrageous", said Francine Thompson, co-director of the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City, the first outpatient abortion clinic in the state.

The lawsuit names Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Board of Medicine as defendants, Bettis said.

"In the 45 years since Roe, no federal or state court has upheld such a risky law", Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa legal director, said in a statement.

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Smith added that the state would be represented in the case by the Thomas More Society at no cost to taxpayers, a reference to a decision by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, not to defend the statute if challenged. "In the 45 years since (Roe v. Wade), no federal or state court has upheld such a unsafe law".

If and when Iowa's fetal heartbeat abortion ban takes effect, Quad-City patients seeking abortion services will need to travel about 90 miles to one of two family planning facilities in IL.

"We feel very confident moving forward with it", Reynolds said.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa filed a lawsuit against the so-called "heartbeat law".

Under this law, the University of Iowa will not be able to provide comprehensive family planning training for its obstetrics and gynecology residents, which will jeopardize its accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The law does not allow a woman to access an abortion due to "psychological conditions, emotional conditions, familial conditions, or the woman's age". A heartbeat typically manifests at about six weeks into a pregnancy. The Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City, an abortion provider, is also a co-plaintiff in the case.

"The timing essentially makes it an almost-complete ban on abortions in our state".

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