Pro-choice advocates filed a lawsuit Monday to stop Iowa’s new law banning abortions after roughly six weeks.
The law is slated to go into effect July 1, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City said it would be the most restrictive ban in the country, violating women’s rights to obtain an abortion.
“This abortion ban is beyond extreme,” said Rita Bettis, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa. “With it, Iowa politicians have tried to ban virtually all abortions for women in our state.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law earlier this month.
It bans abortions after a heart beat is detected from an ultrasound, which typically occurs around six weeks into a pregnancy. The law provides exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest, but those must be reported to law enforcement within 45 days. It also allows a medical emergency exception for life-threatening conditions.
The state legislature last year also passed a 72-hour waiting requirement for women seeking an abortion. A challenge against the 72-hour law is currently pending before the Iowa Supreme Court.
The ACLU of Iowa argues that if the court upholds the 72-hour wait period as well as the six-week ban, women will be placed in a dangerous position where they are forced to either carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, obtain an abortion in another state or self-induce an abortion.
Francine Thompson, co-director of the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City, said the cut-off period of six weeks doesn’t work.
“The timing essentially makes it an almost-complete ban on abortions in our state. It’s also important to note that the exceptions in the law are essentially non-exceptions. The requirement of reporting rape within 45 days, for example, is completely out of touch with the reality that survivors of those horrendous crimes live with,” she said.