Lawsuit filed against fetal heartbeat law

Lawsuit filed against fetal heartbeat law

Lawsuit filed against fetal heartbeat law

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa seeks to block Iowa's recently-passed "heartbeat" abortion law, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

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.

The groups are seeking an injunction that would put the law on hold during the lawsuit, a process that could take years.

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".

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

Iowa Republicans a year ago 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. The new legislation also bans the sale of all fetal tissue in the state. Democrat Tom Miller said the decision to remove his office from the case was based on a belief that the measure "would undermine rights and protections for women".

"We believe that the Iowa Constitution protects abortion rights as strongly, if not more so, than the federal constitution", Bettis said.


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

Lawmakers adopted several abortion restrictions in 2017, including a 20-week abortion ban and a requirement that women wait three days before ending a pregnancy.

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. "With it, Iowa politicians have tried to ban virtually all abortions for women in our state".

A 2017 Iowa law that requires a minimum 72-hour waiting period before obtaining an abortion is now blocked while the Iowa Supreme Court decides whether to strike it down.

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.

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