Lawsuit Aims To Stop Iowa's Abortion Law From Going Into Effect

Lawsuit Aims To Stop Iowa's Abortion Law From Going Into Effect

Pro-life advocates say they were prepared for a court battle.

What backers of the fetal-heartbeat law may not have counted on was the move by plaintiffs to bring the action in state court rather than federal court, meaning the challenge to the law won't end up before the U.S. Supreme Court because the suit citing the state constitution can not be removed to federal court, according Rita Bettis, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, said he would not defend the abortion ban because he believes it would undermine the rights of women, according to a letter from his office to Reynolds and four cabinet members.

Iowa Republicans past year also gave up millions in federal dollars to create a state-funded family planning program that prohibits participation from abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

"We've moved quickly to challenge this cruel and reckless law because it can not be allowed to take effect", Rita Bettis, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa, told a news conference.

They seek to have the law struck down as unconstitutional and are requesting a temporary injunction with an expedited hearing within 14 days as the case progresses.

"We knew there would be a legal fight, but it's worth having to protect innocent life", Brenna Smith said in an email.

Miller said the Thomas More Society, a conservative Chicago-based law firm, has agreed to defend the law for free.

"The complaint presents the medical facts that this law will make safe and legal abortion virtually disappear in Iowa", said Alice Clapman, an attorney with Planned Parenthood Federation of America who will act as co-counsel with Bettis.

The legislation would require doctors to conduct an abdominal ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat. The evidence is clear that in places where abortion is banned or heavily restricted, some individuals desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy resort to unsafe methods.

The state legislature a year ago also passed a 72-hour waiting requirement for women seeking an abortion.

Planned Parenthood officials say their organization along with the ACLU and the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City are in it for the long haul. Last week, she said when referring to the new law, "I have had very positive feedback".

A 2017 Iowa law that requires a minimum 72-hour waiting period before obtaining an abortion is now blocked while the Iowa Supreme Court decides whether to strike it down.

Suzanna de Baca, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, called the "fetal heartbeat" provision a "de facto ban" on legal abortion that "would be the most-restrictive abortion ban in the country" if it were allowed to take effect. The Iowa Supreme Court has yet to issue an opinion in that case.