Lawsuit Filed over Heartbeat Bill

by Brian Wilson
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The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and two abortion providers have filed a lawsuit challenging the fetal heartbeat bill the Iowa legislature passed Tuesday in a special session. Ruth Richardson is president and C-E-O of Planned Parenthood of North Central States. She says hundreds of Iowans could be impacted when the governor signs the bill Friday, because it immediately goes into effect.

The bill bars doctors from performing abortions after an ultrasound detects cardiac activity, which happens around the sixth week of a pregnancy. Governor Reynolds is scheduled to sign the bill into law at 2:15 Friday afternoon. A Polk County district court judge has scheduled a hearing earlier, at 1:30 Friday afternoon, to hear the arguments over a temporary injunction that would block enforcement of the law. If the law does go into effect Friday, Planned Parenthood officials say they will abide by the new abortion restrictions and are prepared to refer patients to other clinics.

Planned Parenthood’s Iowa clinics and the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City had appointments for 200 patients this week and next week. Peter Im, staff attorney for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, confirms the bill also limits the availability of medication abortions.

The bill lists exceptions rape and incest as well as serious medical conditions, but Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the A-C-L-U of Iowa, says the experience in other states with similar abortion restrictions shows the details are unworkable.

The same groups filed a lawsuit that successfully blocked a similar law passed in 2018 from taking effect. Governor Reynolds says the voices of Iowans and their elected representatives cannot be ignored any longer and justice for the unborn should not be delayed.

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