Judge Temporarily Blocks Iowa’s Controversial Abortion Ban, Allowing Abortions Up to 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

Iowa Judge Temporarily Blocks State’s New Abortion Ban, Allowing Abortion Up to 20 Weeks

DES MOINES, Iowa – An Iowa judge has issued a temporary block on the state’s new ban on most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. The ruling comes just a few days after Governor Kim Reynolds signed the controversial measure into law, which means that abortion is once again legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy while the courts assess the constitutionality of the new law.

Under the new law, nearly all abortions are prohibited once cardiac activity can be detected, which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy. This is often before many women even know they are pregnant. Governor Reynolds made headlines when she signed the bill into law at an event meant to showcase Republican presidential contenders. Her actions have sparked speculation about her own potential presidential aspirations.

While the legal challenge unfolds, abortion advocates are urging the courts to put the restrictions on hold. The ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States, and the Emma Goldman Clinic have all filed a lawsuit against the law. Judge Joseph Seidlin held a hearing on the matter but said he would take it under advisement before Reynolds signed the bill into law.

Abortion providers have been racing against the clock to accommodate as many appointments as possible before the bill’s signing. Meanwhile, Governor Reynolds has expressed her determination to continue fighting for the law, vowing to take the issue all the way to the state Supreme Court.

The judge’s ruling on Monday specifies that although the law is temporarily halted, the state’s Board of Medicine should proceed with creating enforcement rules as outlined in the law. This would provide clear guidance for healthcare providers if the law were to take effect in the future.

There are limited exceptions in the law that would allow for abortions after the point of cardiac activity detection. These exceptions include cases of rape or incest reported to law enforcement or a healthcare provider within certain time frames, fetal abnormality “incompatible with life,” or if the pregnancy endangers the life of the pregnant woman.

Judge Seidlin’s ruling is based on the “undue burden” test, which requires that laws should not create a significant obstacle to abortion. Using this standard, Seidlin agreed with abortion advocates who argue that the new law violates Iowans’ constitutional rights. However, lawyers for the state are likely to continue arguing that the law should be analyzed using the lowest level of scrutiny, rational basis review.

In recent years, Republican-led states have imposed severe restrictions on abortion access. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that gave states authority over abortion law, more than a dozen states have implemented bans with limited exceptions. Georgia, for example, bans abortion after cardiac activity is detected. Several other states, including Iowa, have similar restrictions that are currently on hold pending court rulings.

Despite the temporary halt to the law, healthcare providers remain vigilant. They acknowledge that although their relief is only pending further litigation, they are grateful that essential healthcare in Iowa can continue at this time.

In conclusion, the Iowa judge’s temporary block on the state’s new abortion ban has allowed the resumption of abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy while the law’s constitutionality is being evaluated. The legal battle surrounding the legislation continues, and abortion providers are cautiously preparing for any future outcomes. The fight over abortion rights in Iowa, as in many other states, remains uncertain and contentious.