Planned Parenthood and ACLU announce suit against Iowa abortion law

17 May, 2018, 03:49 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Pro-choice groups challenge Iowa's strict abortion ban

A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, making the legislation one of the nation's strictest abortion laws.

Representatives from Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City held a joint news conference to announce they are challenging the constitutionality of Senate File 359, a measure slated to take effect July 1 that would outlaw most abortions in Iowa once a fetal heartbeat is detected - normally after about six weeks of pregnancy.

"The evidence is clear that in places where abortion is banned or heavily restricted, some individuals desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy resort to unsafe methods", she said. "It has been a very striking shift in the state Legislature, and it really shows how important state legislatures are to abortion access".

"This abortion ban is beyond extreme", said Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa legal director. "Gov. Kim Reynolds has no right to impose her beliefs on Iowa women".

The lawsuit follows reports of increased pro-life protests and advocacy outside of abortion clinics across the country, The AP noted.

Governor Reynolds said in a statement when she signed the bill, "I believe that all innocent life is precious and sacred, and as governor, I pledged to do everything in my power to protect it".

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Exceptions include cases of medical necessity in a physician's judgment, rape that is reported within 45 days, incest reported within 140 days, or where a physician certifies a fetal abnormality that is "incompatible with life". The group says that Iowa's legislature ignored the legal rights guaranteed in the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, as well as Iowa's own constitution.

Nearly immediately after the lawsuit was filed, the state's attorney general said he would not defend the new law.

"I understand and anticipate that this will likely be challenged in court", Republican Governor Kim Reynolds said in a statement after the signing. The battle over this law could eventually make its way to the high court as well.

Planned Parenthood officials say their organization along with the ACLU and the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City are in it for the long haul.

Separately, a new Iowa-based coalition of anti-abortion organizations was formed past year to renew efforts toward an abortion ban. "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".

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