Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Iowa AG refuses to defend state abortion ban

Iowa AG refuses to defend state abortion ban

Advocates of what is considered to be the most restrictive abortion law in the country, say they expected the legislation to be challenged in court and are hoping the ensuing legal battle will be a vehicle to overturn the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Their lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Polk County District Court, they announced at a press conference Tuesday.

Gov. Reynolds' spokesperson Brenna Smith said the state will be represented by the Thomas More Society "at no cost to taxpayers".

"The disqualification is based on the Attorney General's determination that he could not zealously assert the state's position because of his core belief that the statute, if upheld, would undermine rights and protections for women", read a letter from the A.G.'s office to the state Executive Council.

The ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood Federation of America are filing the lawsuit as co-counsel on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Dr. Jill Meadows, an OB-GYN and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland medical director.

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.

"The timing makes it an nearly complete ban on abortions in our state", said Emma Goldman Clinic Co-director Francine Thompson.

"We knew there would be a legal fight, but it's a fight worth having to protect innocent life", Smith said in an email. It prohibits a physician from performing an abortion "when it has been determined that the unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat", which happens at about six weeks. Earlier versions had called for felony charges against doctors, but not women seeking an abortion. It argues the new law violates the Iowa Constitution. The Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City, an abortion provider, is also a co-plaintiff in the case.

"This abortion ban is beyond extreme".

"This law, if signed, I believe could very well be the very bill that overturns Roe v. Wade", said Sen. "We will not back down until every person has the freedom and opportunity to make the health care decisions that are best for them and their families". "This law must be struck down".

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa previously brought a legal challenge to the constitutionality of a 72-hour waiting period for a woman to obtain an abortion that was approved during the 2017 legislative session and signed by then-Gov.

Iowa is now in court defending a 2017 abortion law that imposes a 72-hour mandatory waiting period and an additional trip requirement for women seeking an abortion.

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.

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