Friday, 21 September, 2018

Planned Parenthood, ACLU of Iowa sue to stop fetal heartbeat bill

Pro-choice groups challenge Iowa's strict abortion ban Clinics Sue Iowa Over Six-Week Abortion Ban
Laurie Berry | 16 May, 2018, 08:59

The complaint was not immediately made public, however, pending processing by the Polk County Clerk of Court, which had not happened by midday Tuesday.

But Tuesday's lawsuit was filed in state court, not federal court.

The expected legal battle over a controversial abortion has begun in Iowa. "In the 45 years since Roe, no federal or state court has upheld such a unsafe law".

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

"Iowa will not go back in time by taking away this right", Suzanna de Baca, the president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said at a news conference.

"This abortion ban is beyond extreme", said legal director for ACLU of Iowa Rita Bettis in the statement.

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.

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

The legislation would require doctors to conduct an abdominal ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat.

The law contains a narrow exception in cases where a person's life is endangered by the pregnancy, and for cases of rape and incest.

The ACLU of Iowa argues that if the court upholds the 72-hour wait period as well as the six-week ban, women will be placed in a risky position where they are forced to either carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, obtain an abortion in another state or self-induce an abortion. It does not specify criminal or civil penalties for those breaking the law.

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. Dr. Jill Meadows, medical director of PPH, is also a co-plaintiff in the case.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood called the law "blatantly unconstitutional" and "extremely harmful to women". The "heartbeat" bill passed the Iowa House and Senate earlier this month and was signed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds soon after.

Iowa affiliates for Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday they'll make a joint announcement Tuesday afternoon. The Iowa Supreme Court has yet to issue an opinion in that case.

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