An Iowa judge issued a temporary order blocking the implementation of a new state law that banned most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. This decision came just days after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the measure into law, which had been approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature in special session.
Judge Joseph Seidlin issued an order temporarily blocking the new Iowa law, enacted on Tuesday, July 11, while the courts assess its constitutionality.
This law stated that abortion was prohibited once fetal heart activity was detected, which usually occurs around six weeks into the pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.
The temporary block means that abortion will once again be legal in Iowa until 20 weeks into a pregnancy, providing a reprieve for abortion providers and women seeking to terminate their pregnancies in that state. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Emma Goldman Clinic filed a legal challenge against the law and celebrated the decision Monday.
GOOD NEWS: Today, an Iowa state district court listened to abortion providers and temporarily blocked a newly-enacted six-week abortion ban.
For now, abortion remains safe and legal in Iowa. This fight isn’t over.
—Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) July 17, 2023
The judge’s order also required the state Board of Medicine to move forward with creating rules for enforcement of the law, which would provide clear guidance for health care providers if it were to take effect in the future.
Judge Seidlin based his ruling on the “undue burden” test, which implies that laws should not make abortion difficult to access. This supports the arguments of abortion advocates that the new law violates the constitutional rights of Iowans.
Partisan division in the approval of the law and failed attempts to soften it
The Iowa legislature approved, last Tuesday, a law that prohibited abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds was expected to sign the ban quickly, after a similar measure was blocked by the state Supreme Court in July 2022.
The law, approved in a vote largely divided along party lines, excluded exceptions for age or mental health conditions. Before the scrutiny, Democratic lawmakers tried to water down the law without success.
Reynolds had requested the dissolution of the injunction blocking the law, but the judges could not reach an agreement.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa and the advocacy group Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition urged their lawmakers to protest the legislation.
The decline of reproductive rights in the US
Judge Seidlin’s decision came amid a national landscape in which several Republican-ruled states have implemented severe restrictions on abortion access since the US Supreme Court struck down federal abortion protections in Roe v. Wade. More than a dozen states have passed bans with limited exceptions, and others, like Georgia, have banned abortion once fetal heart activity is detected.
The Planned Parenthood organization, which has a wide network of reproductive health clinics in the United States, estimated that since the revocation of federal abortion protection, access to this practice has been partially or totally eliminated in at least 20 states, including Texas. , Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and North Carolina.
As the debate and fight for reproductive rights in the United States continues, the situation in Iowa adds to a complex and ever-evolving national landscape around pregnancy termination. The Iowa Supreme Court’s final decision in this case could have lasting implications for abortion access in the state and set a precedent for future legal disputes in other states.
Thus, the future of abortion in Iowa remains uncertain as the case is expected to go before the state Supreme Court. This is a legal battle that could span state lines and influence the direction of abortion decisions at the national level.
With AP, EFE, Reuters and local media