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Iowa Supreme Court clears way for law banning abortion after heartbeat detection

Posted at 8:12 PM, Jun 28, 2024

DES MOINES, Iowa (KMTV) — A historic day for some and a devastating day for others. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled to dissolve the temporary block on the law that would allow Iowa to ban abortions from the point a heartbeat is detected.

It was a 4 to 3 decision, the 2023 law would require an abdominal ultrasound to detect cardiac activity and if a heartbeat is detected, an abortion would not be allowed.

"Today's ruling is a staggering blow to Iowans and it will take years to undo the health impacts that are going to be around for generations to come,” said Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States.

"We love the mom and we love the baby and we want to see them both protected under our laws and the heartbeat bill is a great step forward in doing just that,” said Maggie DeWittee, executive director of Pulse Life Advocates.

The ruling gaining attention at the local, state and national levels.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds reacted to the decision with the following statement.

“There is no right more sacred than life, and nothing more worthy of our strongest defense than the innocent unborn. Iowa voters have spoken clearly through their elected representatives, both in 2018 when the original heartbeat bill was passed and signed into law, and again in 2023 when it passed by an even larger margin. I’m glad that the Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the will of the people of Iowa.

“As the heartbeat bill finally becomes law, we are deeply committed to supporting women in planning for motherhood, and promoting fatherhood and its importance in parenting. We will continue to develop policies that encourage strong families, which includes promoting adoption and protecting in vitro fertilization (IVF). Families are the cornerstone of society, and it’s what will keep the foundation of our state and country strong for generations to come.”
Later Friday afternoon, the White House released this statement:

Statement from President Joe Biden on Iowa’s Abortion Ban

Today, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the state’s extreme and dangerous abortion ban can go into effect. Iowa is the twenty-second state with an abortion ban, imposed by Republican elected officials, that puts women’s health and lives in jeopardy.

This should never happen in America. Yet, this is exactly what is happening in states across the country since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. And it’s not stopping at the state level - Republican elected officials in Congress have proposed four national abortion bans while refusing to protect nationwide access to IVF and contraception.

Vice President Harris and I believe that women in every state must have the right to make deeply personal decisions about their health. We will continue to call on Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law and stand firm against efforts made by Republican elected officials to undermine Americans’ fundamental freedoms.
Planned Parenthood says it has provided over 11,500 abortions for Iowans since 2018.

"We have been planning for this moment for a very long time, understanding that we had to be prepared for any decision to come forward," Richardson said.

There are exceptions in the law that would allow an abortion after a heartbeat detection, if there is a medical emergency or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

But for the rape and incest exception to apply, they must be reported to law enforcement or a healthcare provider. Rape within 45 days and incest within 145 days.

DeWitte says they will continue to work toward the day when all babies and all life are protected under the law.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is working to expand access to abortion for patients outside of Iowa, including expanding the health center in Omaha to respond to the increased need.

The case now goes back to the District Court. Under the state’s court rules, that process takes at least 21 days abortion will be legal in Iowa during this time.

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