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What's next for Iowa abortion laws?

Posted at 7:37 PM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 20:37:35-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa. (KMTV) — In Iowa, abortion is still legal but the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade could lead state legislators to pass more restrictions on the procedure.

Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court reversed its own ruling from four years ago. They now say the state's constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion. That decision opens a whole range of possibilities for limiting abortions.

Fran Parr of Council Bluffs credits Roe v. Wade for helping her make decisions best for her and her family. She's had miscarriages, terminated pregnancies and live births; she's had the "continuum of experience."

"Every woman in every partnership, or independently, understands what she can take on and how she can take things on. What your loading looks like, what direction you want to live your life," Parr said.

Since abortion is legal for now in Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, the doors to Planned Parenthood will stay open. But trigger laws that ban abortion in North and South Dakota, so Planned Parenthood North Central States has stopped abortion care in South Dakota. North Dakota doesn't have a clinic. The organization is preparing for an influx of patients from all over the region.

"We have increased capacity at our telehealth abortion sites; continuing to recruit and onboard new physicians in Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota in order to meet more demand. And we've also hired more patient navigators," said Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States.

Traxler worries for pregnant people in cases where abortion is a life-saving procedure.

"I've had a patient diagnosed with cancer who could not get her treatment until she had an abortion. I've had patients with ruptured membranes or their water breaks early and they become septic and they have a life-threatening infection," Traxler said.

Maggie DeWitte is the executive director of Pulse Life Advocates, an organization against abortion, and she insists those medical emergencies are rare.

"We have hundreds of thousands of pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics across the country that will embrace these women who are having crisis pregnancies and bring them in and take care of them in whatever way they need, 42 here in Iowa alone," DeWitte said.

Drake University law professor, Sally Frank is confident Iowa legislators will create some kind of ban on abortion, but women do have political power.

"Make this a key part of their decision for whom to vote and maybe other people get elected, but that's a long-term strategy. In the short-term, strategy for a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy now — it's devastating," Frank said.

In a tweet, Gov. Kim Reynolds says she won't rest until "every unborn Iowan is protected and respected."

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