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Groups File Lawsuit to Stop Iowa's New Abortion Law

A lawsuit has been filed to stop Iowa's newest anti-abortion law from taking effect on July 1.  (plannedparenthoodaction.org)
A lawsuit has been filed to stop Iowa's newest anti-abortion law from taking effect on July 1. (plannedparenthoodaction.org)
May 16, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa – Calling the Iowa "fetal heartbeat" abortion law "beyond extreme," three groups filed suit on Tuesday to stop its implementation.

Planned Parenthood, its Iowa chapter and the American Civil Liberties Union Iowa branch said the law passed by Iowa legislators and signed by the governor is unconstitutional. It bans nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur about six weeks into a pregnancy and often before a woman realizes she's pregnant.

In the 45 years since abortion was legalized, said Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa legal director, no federal or state court has upheld this type of law.

"We have asked the court for a temporary injunction so that the law will not take effect during the period of time that we're litigating it, so that Iowa women will be protected from it during that time," she said.

Iowa plans to be represented in the case by the Thomas More Society after Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, announced he would not defend the statute, saying it "undermines rights and protections for women."

Republican lawmakers who passed the law anticipated it would face a court challenge. They hope it will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and result in the reversal of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Bettis said the groups filing the lawsuit want speedy attention from the court system, since they believe the law poses a danger to women's health.

"We have asked the court to move quickly to set the matter for an expedited hearing," she said, "so that that temporary injunction can be decided on before the law is due to take effect, which is July 1."

According to Iowa Planned Parenthood, 2,300 abortions were performed at its facilities last year, and 98 percent of those would have been illegal under Iowa's new law.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA