Planned Parenthood, ACLU Sue Iowa Governor Over Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Law

Wednesday, 16 May, 2018

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 lawsuit was anticipated by some sponsors of the law, who hoped to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision that established that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

Nearly immediately after the lawsuit was filed, the state's attorney general said he would not defend the new 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.

Similar lawsuits are underway in MS, which passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, and Kentucky, which banned abortions after 11 weeks.

Despite the legal challenges, she said, "This is about life; I am not going to back down from who I am or what I believe in".

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 Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said after signing the bill on Saturday that the "work is not done" when it comes to restricting abortions in the state.

The law is evidence of the state's conservative shift after the 2016 election, when Republicans gained control of the Legislature and the governor's office for the first time in almost 20 years.

"We feel very confident moving forward with it", Reynolds said.

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".

Jill Meadows, medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, said it is important that the law not go into effect: "Abortion care must remain safe and legal as an important part of basic reproductive health care". The law provides exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest, but those must be reported to law enforcement within 45 days.

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.

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.