Abortion law is challenged in Iowa

Abortion law is challenged in Iowa

Iowa's Republican-controlled legislature voted last month to outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, effectively banning the procedure at about the six-week mark, which may be before a woman realizes she is pregnant.

Advocates of what is considered to be the most restrictive abortion law in the country, say they expected the legislation to be challenged in court and are hoping the ensuing legal battle will be a vehicle to overturn the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Similar lawsuits are underway in MS, which passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, and Kentucky, which banned abortions after 11 weeks. They are also asking the Polk County District Court to block the law from taking effect while the lawsuit plays out.

Shortly after the announcement of the lawsuit, Iowa's longtime attorney general said he would not defend the law.

The ACLU of Iowa argues that if the court upholds the 72-hour wait period as well as the six-week ban, women will be placed in a risky position where they are forced to either carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, obtain an abortion in another state or self-induce an abortion.

"We commend Attorney General Tom Miller for standing up for a woman's right to control her own body, and decide for herself whether and when to become a parent", Laguens said in a statement.

"We haven't heard much out of Iowa until the past couple of years", said state policy analyst Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a national research group that supports abortion rights and tracks abortion legislation.

There are some exceptions to the ban, including some cases of rape and incest and serious medical emergencies, but Planned Parenthood, whose services include abortions, and ACLU say the exceptions are too narrow.

"This abortion ban is beyond extreme", said Rita Bettis, legal director of the ACLU of Iowa.

As of 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Gov. Reynolds has yet to issue a statement in response to the lawsuit.

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

Miller's office defended the state when Planned Parenthood sued over the 2017 law that mandated a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions.

There are some exceptions in the law. "We will fight for our patients and we will fight for the rights of Iowans", Planned Parenthood of the Heartland President and CEO Suzanna De Baca said.

Doctors who violate the law would lose their licenses.

Francine Thompson, co-director of the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City, said the law would have a devastating impact on the women her clinic sees every day. "The requirement of reporting rape within 45 days, for example, is completely out of touch with the reality that survivors of those horrendous crimes live with".