The abortion ban, passed in special session on Tuesday, will take effect immediately when signed by Gov. Reynolds on Friday.
Des Moines, Iowa — Today, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the Emma Goldman Clinic, and the ACLU of Iowa filed a challenge in district court to an abortion ban at approximately six weeks of pregnancy that, without court intervention, would take effect immediately upon Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signature.
Reynolds announced that she plans to sign the bill on Friday, July 14 at 2:15 p.m. CT. Plaintiffs are seeking a temporary injunction that would prevent enforcement of the law.
HF 732 bans abortion before many people know they are pregnant and is virtually identical to a 2018 law kept blocked by the Iowa Supreme Court just weeks ago. By banning the vast majority of abortions, this bill violates Iowans’ constitutional rights to abortion and substantive due process. The ban also violates the Iowa Constitution’s Inalienable Rights Clause, which explicitly guarantees those rights to women and guarantees equal protection under state law.
While the ban contains some so-called exceptions, the reality is that the vast majority of Iowans would be unable to access abortion. In addition to narrow exceptions for the life of a pregnant person and certain medical emergencies, the bill also purports to provide exceptions to the ban for certain survivors of rape and incest, those experiencing miscarriage, and those with particular fetal diagnoses. However, each exception includes significant barriers to accessing care. The experiences of patients and providers across the country have demonstrated that so-called exceptions like those in Iowa’s abortion ban are unworkable, put patients’ lives at risk, and further deprive people of their reproductive freedom.
“Today, we continue the fight to protect Iowans’ fundamental right to reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy as we seek a temporary injunction to block the egregious abortion ban Iowa lawmakers rammed through during an unprecedented one-day special session. These out-of-touch politicians have inserted themselves into the exam rooms of Iowans, who no longer have control over their bodies and futures because of an unpopular, narrow political agenda,” said Ruth Richardson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “If this abortion ban goes into effect, it will place an unacceptable burden on patients’ ability to access essential abortion care, especially those who already face systemic inequities. Hundreds of Iowans will be impacted in mere weeks. We refuse to stand idly by and will fight every step of the way to block this abortion ban and restore Iowans’ rights.”
“We are appalled and disappointed that the Iowa Legislature and the governor are playing doctor by inserting themselves into exam rooms where they don’t belong,” said Francine Thompson, executive director of the Emma Goldman Clinic. “They are not doctors and have no medical expertise. The Emma Goldman Clinic has been providing reproductive health care in Iowa for 50 years and we stand strongly in solidarity with Iowans in need of abortion care. We will remain committed to and will not stop our fight to restore Iowans’ fundamental right to reproductive freedom. We deserve better as a state, and our future generations deserve better.”
“Today–just weeks after defeating a similar abortion ban—we are asking the court to immediately act to protect Iowans’ access to essential health care,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Every person deserves the freedom to make their own personal decisions about their bodies and their future. To strip people of that fundamental freedom is unconscionable. Planned Parenthood and our partners remain committed to fighting for our patients in Iowa and across the country.”
"This law is deeply cruel and callously puts the lives and health of Iowans at risk,” said Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa. "It’s appalling that our legislature has passed, and the governor is going to sign, a nearly identical abortion ban to the one permanently blocked by the courts. We are seeking to block the ban because we know that every day this law is in effect, Iowans will face life-threatening barriers to getting desperately needed medical care—just as we have seen in other states with similar bans. Iowa politicians who voted for this have put their own political expediency over the will of the people, as well as Iowans’ rights to bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom, their health, and their safety. But we will not stop fighting to protect Iowans’ right to abortion."
As Iowa Supreme Court Justice Thomas Waterman wrote for the three justices who voted to keep the 2018 ban blocked, “The undue burden test remains the governing standard under the Iowa Constitution, and the State concedes, as it must, that the fetal heartbeat bill is unconstitutional under that test. The State therefore has failed to establish that the district court acted illegally… [i]t would be ironic and troubling for our court to become the first state supreme court in the nation to hold that trash set out in a garbage can for collection is entitled to more constitutional protection than a woman’s interest in autonomy and dominion over her own body.”
This lawsuit was brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the ACLU of Iowa on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the Emma Goldman Clinic, and Dr. Sarah Traxler.
Note: Politicians have called this bill a “heartbeat bill,” but make no mistake: the term “fetal heartbeat” is not only factually inaccurate, but purposefully misleading. Medical experts agree that the fetal cardiac activity detectable early in pregnancy is not accurately described as a heartbeat, and the Associated Press recommends that these bills be described as what they are: bans on abortion at the earliest weeks of pregnancy.