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On hold

Iowa judge temporarily blocks one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S.

By WITW Staff on June 4, 2018

An Iowa judge has temporarily blocked Iowa’s controversial fetal heartbeat law. The law, which bans nearly all abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, is one of the most restrictive in the United States.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law on May 4, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Planned Parenthood Federation of American and the Emma Goldman Clinic to sue the state.

These groups argued that because fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks — before many women even know they are pregnant — the law violates “women’s rights to due process, their rights to liberty, safety and happiness, and their rights to equal protection under Iowa’s constitution,” according to The Des Moines Register.

Judge Michael Huppert issued the temporary injunction on Friday, meaning that the law will not go into effect until the lawsuit is resolved. It was expected to take effect on July 1. Lawyers for the state agreed to the injunction “for the sake of getting a resolution on the merits sooner and better,” Martin Cannon of the Thomas More Society, which is representing the state, told the Register.

Rita Bettis, an attorney for the ACLU of Iowa, said that the injunction is “a much better outcome for women than having to spend the next few weeks worrying about whether or not they’re going to be able to exercise their fundamental right to have a safe and legal abortion in Iowa,” The Associated Press reported.

Both the state and the advocacy groups have said that they want the case to go to the Iowa Supreme Court. Anti-abortion groups have also said that they hope the case makes it all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

“From our side, there aren’t really any questions that at six-week gestation an embryo is not viable, so it is hard to imagine how this (court fight) could take a very long time,” Bettis said. “But we will wait and see what their answer says ultimately then we’ll have a better idea.”

For more on the story, watch the video below.

Read the full story at The Des Moines Register and The Associated Press.


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