Advocates Sue to Block Iowa's Total Abortion Ban

Advocates Sue to Block Iowa's Total Abortion Ban

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a new Iowa law, set to take effect July 1, which bans virtually all abortions following detection of a fetal heartbeat.

The law, signed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this month, bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually about six weeks into a pregnancy.

Suzanna de Baca, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, called the "fetal heartbeat" provision a "de facto ban" on legal abortion that "would be the most-restrictive abortion ban in the country" if it were allowed to take effect. "In the 45 years since Roe, no federal or state court has upheld such a risky law", said ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis. A challenge against the 72-hour law is now pending before the Iowa Supreme Court.

What backers of the fetal-heartbeat law may not have counted on was the move by plaintiffs to bring the action in state court rather than federal court, meaning the challenge to the law won't end up before the U.S. Supreme Court because the suit citing the state constitution can not be removed to federal court, according Rita Bettis, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa.

She added: "I understand and anticipate that this will likely be challenged in court, and that courts may even put a hold on the law until it reaches the Supreme Court".

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

Thompson told reporters the new law would be an "almost complete ban" on abortions, as only about 2 percent of the abortions at her clinic are performed at or before the sixth week of a pregnancy.

A conservative law firm may be appointed to defend the law on the state's behalf.

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. 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.

"Not only is this law blatantly unconstitutional - it's extremely harmful to women", Planned Parenthood said in a statement about the lawsuit. "In the 45 years since (Roe v. Wade), no federal or state court has upheld such a risky law". There is an exception for rape and incest, which requires women to report the crime to law enforcement or certain medical professionals within 45 days. Doctors who violate this exception would lose their licenses. She said less than 2 percent of the abortions performed at her clinic a year ago were before or around the six-week mark.

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