Iowa Judge Blocks Fetal-Heartbeat Abortion Law

DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) – An Iowa judge on Friday agreed to issue a temporary injunction barring enforcement of the state’s newly enacted fetal-heartbeat law that critics say would outlaw almost all abortions in the Hawkeye State.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City sued the state on May 15, arguing the law that prohibits abortions when a fetus has a detectable heartbeat is unconstitutional. They asked for an expedited hearing on their request for a temporary injunction to prevent enforcement of the statute scheduled to go into effect July 1.

Polk County District Judge Michael Huppert said from the bench at the start of Friday’s hearing on the injunction request that the parties had stipulated to a temporary injunction, which he said he would issue later in the day.

Alice Clapman, an attorney for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said at the hearing that the plaintiffs had “moved for temporary relief for our patients” and that both parties had agreed to the injunction.

Iowa is represented by the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based conservative law firm, because Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller declined to defend the abortion law.

Martin Cannon, an attorney for the Thomas More Society, said the state agreed to the temporary injunction so the court could “get to the merits sooner.”

Senate File 359 was signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds on May 4 two days after it was passed in the middle of the night by the GOP-controlled Legislature entirely with Republican votes.

The statute has been called the strictest abortion law in the nation. 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.

The lawsuit states that the restrictions will prevent virtually all women from getting an abortion in Iowa because many women do not know they are pregnant as early as the sixth week, and only about 2 percent of the clinics’ patients terminate pregnancies before six weeks.

The complaint was filed in by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Dr. Jill Meadows and the Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City.

It names Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Board of Medicine as defendants.

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