For just three days, most abortions were illegal in the state of Iowa.
On Friday, Iowa's Republican Governor signed a six-week abortion ban into law. By Monday, the law was temporarily blocked when district judge Joseph Seidlin suspended the legislation so that lawsuits brought against it could move forward.
Seidlin said that he believed that the case brought by he American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, in tandem with abortion providers in Iowa, was likely to succeed. Abortions remain legal in the state up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, for the time being.
“We are deeply relieved that the court granted this relief so essential health care in Iowa can continue,’’ said Dr. Abbey Hardy-Fairbanks, medical director of the Emma Goldman Clinic, via The New York Times. “We are also acutely aware that the relief is only pending further litigation and the future of abortion in Iowa remains tenuous and threatened.”
The prohibited abortions after the detection of a “detectable fetal heartbeat” — a term contended by medical professionals, as a fetus does not have a heart at six weeks, but rather exhibits cellular activity. Many women are not even aware they are pregnant that early into pregnancy.
Iowa legislators first attempted to pass a six week ban in 2018, which was thwarted in June when the state Supreme Court deadlocked over it. Governor Kim Reynolds called a special session specifically to pass the ban, which went through this month.
In his ruling, Judge Seidlin said his was ruling based on the precedent set by the state Supreme Court in 2018, as the bill proposed now is “virtually identical” to the one put forth then. Though his decision is not final, Democrats in the state have welcomed his decision as victory.
“Iowans support and deserve their fundamental right to make health care decisions about their own bodies,” said Representative Jennifer Konfrst, Democratic minority leader of the state House of Representatives.