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Lawsuit filed in Polk County over fetal heartbeat law

DES MOINES - On Tuesday, the ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood on behalf of Dr. Jill Meadows and the Emily Goldman Clinic of Iowa City filed a lawsuit in Polk County District court, asking the court to block Iowa's newest abortion law.

The lawsuit is over the fetal heartbeat bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds on May 4. The law doesn't go into effect until July 1, but the two groups want a judge to block the law from even going into effect.

The law would ban abortions as soon as any embryonic cardiac activity (a heartbeat) is detected, which usually happens at around six weeks.

“This abortion ban is beyond extreme. With it, Iowa politicians have tried to ban virtually all abortions for women in our state. In the 45 years since Roe, no federal or state court has upheld such a dangerous law," said ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis. 

“This law must not go into effect,” said Dr. Jill Meadows, M.D., co-plaintiff and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Medical Director. “Abortion care must remain safe and legal as an important part of basic reproductive health care. The evidence is clear that in places where abortion is banned or heavily restricted, some individuals desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy resort to unsafe methods. If the law went into effect, it is likely that many more Iowans would attempt to self- induce abortions in ways that could jeopardize their health and their lives.”

There are some exceptions in the law. They include: 
• The law includes a “medical emergency” exception, but it only includes “physical” conditions that are life-threatening or pose “a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” Doctors who violate this exception would lose their licenses.
• The law does not allow a woman to access an abortion she needs because of
“psychological conditions, emotional conditions, familial conditions, or the woman’s age."
• The law’s exception for rape and incest requires that women report it to law enforcement or certain
medical professionals within 45 days. 


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