Sign opposing Iowa abortion ban

Opponents of Iowa lawmakers' efforts to ban abortion gathered at the state Capitol on July 11, 2023.

(Photo: ACLU of Iowa/Facebook)

Iowa Abortion Providers Sue Over 'Appalling' New Six-Week Ban

"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," said the ACLU of Iowa's legal director.

Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds hasn't yet signed a new ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but healthcare providers are already fighting back, filing a challenge to the looming law in state court on Wednesday.

"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," said Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, in a statement.

The case was brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the ACLU of Iowa on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Dr. Sarah Traxler, and the Emma Goldman Clinic—whose executive director, Francine Thompson, said that "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."

After the divided Iowa Supreme Court last month upheld an injunction against a similar 2018 law, Reynolds called Tuesday's special session specifically so that Republican lawmakers could pass a new abortion ban and she now plans to sign the bill, H.F. 732, on Friday.

"This law is deeply cruel and callously puts the lives and health of Iowans at risk."

"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," Austen added. "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."

H.F. 732 would ban abortion before many people even know they are pregnant—and while the bill contains exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the life of the pregnant person, as Common Dreams has reported, in practice, healthcare providers' fears about potential consequences have led some patients who could qualify for a legal abortion to be denied such care.

While Reynolds claimed in a Tuesday statement about the bill's passage that "the voices of Iowans and their democratically elected representatives cannot be ignored any longer," polling results released Wednesday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research show the majority of Americans across the political spectrum support abortions up to 15 weeks.

The poll was conducted June 22-26, a period that included the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority reversing Roe v. Wade. Since the justices' Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, GOP anti-choice legislators have ramped up their efforts to end abortion access, leading "healthcare refugees" who can afford it to seek care in Democrat-controlled states with strong reproductive rights protections, such as Illinois, which borders Iowa.

The fight over Iowa's new ban comes as the state prepares for a Friday forum featuring some candidates for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, hosted by Tucker Carlson, who was recently ousted by Fox News. The frontrunner—twice-impeached and twice-indicted former President Donald Trump—is not planning to participate.

However, for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and ex-Vice President Mike Pence, Iowa's new abortion ban "just became a GOP litmus test," TIME's Philip Elliott wrote Wednesday. "It will be all but impossible for the candidates to avoid this issue as they take their turn on stage Friday."

Meanwhile, given polls showing most Americans support at least some abortion rights,The New Republic's Tori Otten suggested that the Iowa GOP's "extreme move" this week "could tip the state" for President Joe Biden, who is facing a few longshot Democratic primary challengers but widely expected to face the Republican nominee next year.

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