Two abortion providers represented by the American Civil Liberties Union sued Iowa on Tuesday, claiming its newly enacted fetal-heartbeat law that outlaws abortion in all but the earliest stages of pregnancy is unconstitutional.
Nearly all abortions in Iowa will become illegal if the law goes into effect as scheduled on July 1.
The ACLU of Iowa, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City are plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Iowa's ban; the case was filed in Polk County District Court.
The law does have a few exceptions, but the ACLU of Iowa says they're "so narrow and vague that they fail to protect women in extremely vulnerable or risky circumstances".
Advocates of what is considered to be the most restrictive abortion law in the country, which Reynolds signed May 4, say they expected the legislation to be challenged in court and are hoping the ensuing legal battle will be a vehicle to overturn the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
Iowa Republicans previous year also gave up millions in federal dollars to create a state-funded family planning program that prohibits participation from abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.
Smith added that the state would be represented in the case by the Thomas More Society at no cost to taxpayers, a reference to a decision by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, not to defend the statute if challenged.
Senate File 359 has been called the strictest abortion law in the nation.
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Lawmakers adopted several abortion restrictions in 2017, including a 20-week abortion ban and a requirement that women wait three days before ending a pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa filed a lawsuit against the so-called "heartbeat law".
"We think it's extreme and outrageous", said Francine Thompson, co-director of the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City, the first outpatient abortion clinic in the state.
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Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law earlier this month.
Exceptions include cases of medical necessity in a physician's judgment, rape that is reported within 45 days, incest reported within 140 days, or where a physician certifies a fetal abnormality that is "incompatible with life". "It's also important to note that the exceptions in the law are essentially non-exceptions".
A 2017 Iowa law that requires a minimum 72-hour waiting period before obtaining an abortion is now blocked while the Iowa Supreme Court decides whether to strike it down.
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