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Lengthy Court Challenge Expected Over Iowa's Abortion Bill

Iowa family planning advocates say legislation passed to restrict abortion is turning the state into a "contraceptive desert." (prochoiceamerica.org)
Iowa family planning advocates say legislation passed to restrict abortion is turning the state into a "contraceptive desert." (prochoiceamerica.org)
May 7, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa – A legal challenge is expected ahead of July 1, when Iowa is set to enforce the most restrictive abortion law in the nation.

Following approval from Iowa Senate Republicans last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the so-called fetal heartbeat bill on Friday.

The Iowa law would bar physicians from performing most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically at six weeks into a pregnancy and often before a woman realizes she's pregnant.

Veronica Fowler, communications director for ACLU of Iowa, says the new law comes after the Iowa Legislature voted to forfeit the state's family planning money, resulting in the closure of four Planned Parenthood clinics that served 15,000 women in Iowa.

"The passage of this bill comes at a time when legislators have also led this devastating assault on access to family planning and contraception," she states.

The Iowa ACLU and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland already have announced plans to challenge the law's constitutionality.

Fowler says Iowa's new abortion law pushes the state to the front of conservative statehouses attempting to impose the most restrictive regulations on the medical procedure.

"It's extremely regrettable that people are imposing their own strict religious and moral code on the entire state," she stresses.

Fowler notes that three years ago the federal appeals court struck down similar "heartbeat" bills approved by lawmakers in Arkansas and North Dakota.

"Iowa does have a rich tradition of progressive politics, but this is beyond partisanship,” she states. “This is simply an attack on women and an attack on poor women, rural women, women with the fewest choices and the fewest options."

The legislation failed to get a single Democratic Party vote in either Iowa chamber.

Sioux City Republican Sen. Rick Bertrand acknowledges the bill is an attempt by Iowa legislators to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision affirming the legality of a woman's right to an abortion.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA