DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s new ban on most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy was challenged in court Wednesday, kicking off what will likely be a long and emotional legal battle just hours after the Legislative Assembly approved it late at night. vote.
Republican Governor Kim Reynolds said she would sign the bill into law on Friday. This would take effect immediately.
The bill passed with exclusive Republican support in a rare one-day legislative session that lasted more than 14 hours. There were vocal — and sometimes tense — objections from Democratic lawmakers and abortion advocates protesting on Capitol Hill.
The challenge, brought by the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Emma Goldman Clinic, asks that a district court temporarily suspend the future law while the courts assess its constitutionality.
Abortion is currently legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks pregnant, but that would change with Reynolds’ pen stroke on Friday. The new legislation bans nearly all abortions once heart activity can be detected, which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.
Reynolds ordered the special session after the Iowa Supreme Court in June refused to reinstate a virtually identical law it signed in 2018. She called the new bill a vindication of her earlier efforts.
“The Iowa Supreme Court questioned whether this Legislature would pass the same law it passed in 2018, and today it has a clear answer,” Reynolds said in a statement. “Justice for the unborn should not be delayed.”
There are limited circumstances under the measure that would allow abortion after the stage of pregnancy where cardiac activity is detected: rape, if reported to law enforcement or a healthcare provider within 45 days; incest, if reported within 145 days; if the fetus has a fetal abnormality “incompatible with life”; or if the pregnancy endangers the life of the pregnant woman.
Planned Parenthood North Central States said it would refer patients to other states if they needed an abortion in the coming weeks. The organization, Iowa’s largest provider of abortions, will continue to provide patient care before heart activity is detected.
“We are seeking to block the ban because we know that every day this law is in effect, Iowans will face life-threatening obstacles to obtaining desperately needed medical care – just as we have seen in other states with similar bans,” Rita Bettis Austen, chief legal officer for the ACLU of Iowa, said in a statement.
Most Republican-led states have dramatically limited access to abortion in the year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade and handed authority over abortion law to the states. More than a dozen states have bans with limited exceptions and one state, Georgia, bans abortion after detection of heart activity. Several other states have similar restrictions that are pending court rulings.
An Iowa district court in 2019 declared unconstitutional the state’s 2018 abortion ban, which at the time was based on decisions of the United States Supreme Court and the Supreme Court. Supreme Court of Iowa who affirmed a woman’s fundamental constitutional right to abortion.
After the two bodies overturned those rulings last year, the governor sought to reinstate the 2018 law. But the state’s high court deadlocked last month without ruling on the right. -based on an abortion ban, leaving that law permanently stalled and leaving open the question of how the courts would rule on a new one.