Pro-choice groups challenge Iowa's strict abortion ban

Planned Parenthood ACLU File Lawsuit Challenging Fetal Heartbeat Bill

Planned Parenthood ACLU File Lawsuit Challenging Fetal Heartbeat Bill

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. It was signed by Mississippi's Republican governor and quickly put on hold after a court challenge.

"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. 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.

A lawsuit challenging the nation's most restrictive abortion law was filed Tuesday in Iowa, a state that for years was largely left out of Republican efforts to overturn abortion protections and where the Democratic attorney general has refused to defend the law.

"This abortion ban is beyond extreme".

The lawsuit argues that the law violates the Iowa Constitution by banning almost all abortions and putting women's health at risk.

Smith added that the state would be represented in the case by the Thomas More Society at no cost to taxpayers, a reference to a decision by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, not to defend the statute if challenged.

Iowa's "heartbeat" bill was passed by the Iowa House, 51-46, and the state Senate passed the bill 29-17 in early May, sending it to Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who has said abortion is "equivalent to murder".

"This law must not go into effect", said Dr. Jill Meadows, M.D., co-plaintiff and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Medical Director. "In the 45 years since (Roe v. Wade), no federal or state court has upheld such a risky law".

In 2015, the state's high court unanimously struck down rules enacted by the Iowa Board of Medicine that effectively banned the remote distribution of an abortion-inducing pill using a video conferencing system known as "telemedicine". Reynolds signed Iowa's ban earlier this month and said at a public event in Davenport that she felt "very confident in moving forward with it".

"We believe that the Iowa Constitution protects abortion rights as strongly, if not more so, than the federal constitution", Bettis said. Doctors who violate this exception 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. "It's also important to note that the exceptions in the law are essentially non-exceptions". The law would allow abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy in cases of rape if a women reports the crime within 45 days and in case of incest if the crime is reported within 140 days.

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