Monday, 20 May, 2019


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

Planned Parenthood supporters rally outside the Iowa Capitol Building Friday Planned Parenthood supporters rally outside the Iowa Capitol Building Friday
Bennie Garza | 16 May, 2018, 07:06

Planned Parenthood, the country's largest abortion provider, and the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday they will sue the state over the "heartbeat" law, which would effectively ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Unless blocked, the Iowa law would go into effect July 1. The statement says that the lawsuit, filed in Iowa state court on behalf of plaintiffs Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Dr. Jill Meadows, and The Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City, will invoke the authority of Roe v. Wade, which "guaranteed a woman's constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion" 45 years ago.

On the day Reynolds signed the bill, she said she anticipated it would "likely be challenged in court, and that courts may even put a hold on the law until it reaches the Supreme Court".

In June 2015, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that "the Iowa Constitution protects a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy to the same extent as the United States Constitution". That means it's highly unlikely the lawsuit would appear in federal courts and present a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Iowa Republicans past year also gave up millions in federal dollars to create a state-funded family planning program that prohibits participation from abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. Democrat Tom Miller said he based his decision on a belief that the measure "would undermine rights and protections for women", the Associated Press reported. Pro-abortion rights advocates say those who don't have the resources to leave Iowa will be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, or in some cases will attempt to self-induce, a sometimes-dangerous act.

Reynolds, who signed Iowa's ban earlier this month, said at a public event in Davenport that she felt "very confident" in defending the lawsuit, adding: "It's about life".

The lawsuit names Reynolds and the Iowa Board of Medicine as defendants.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU said they hope to avoid that possibility by only challenging the law under the Iowa Constitution.

Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa Legal Director, told reporters Tuesday that "this abortion ban is beyond extreme". If a heartbeat is detected, a physician could perform an abortion except in cases of rape, incest and fetal abnormality. A challenge against the 72-hour law is now pending before the Iowa Supreme Court.

Francine Thompson, co-director of the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City, said the cut-off period of six weeks doesn't work.

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