Iowa governor signs one of country’s most restrictive abortion bans || Criminal attorney

Iowa governor signs one of country’s most restrictive abortion bans


Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed sweeping legislation on Friday restricting abortions even as a state district judge said he was pondering its legality.

The law, which went into effect immediately, prohibits almost all abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant. There are some exceptions for rape, incest and fetal abnormalities.

Until now, abortion was legal in the state up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

In remarks made before signing the measure, Reynolds lauded the legislature for voting “to reject the inhumanity of abortion.”

“The most glaring injustice of all is about to be put right,” Reynolds told a crowd at a meeting of evangelical leaders and voters in Des Moines.

Polk County District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin heard arguments Friday afternoon in a lawsuit brought after the measure was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature this week. The suit, filed by the ACLU and abortion providers, sought a temporary block of the law while court challenges play out.

At the hearing, the groups argued that the abortion ban was not constitutional under Iowa law. State officials defending the measure said it was legal because it seeks to protect the rights of “the unborn,” and doesn’t violate the Iowa Constitution. Seidlin said he needed more time to study the arguments.

“This issue, this case, requires my strong attention,” Seidlin said, adding that he was only told about the lawsuit on Wednesday and that he wanted to consider the issue carefully. He said his ruling could come by Monday or Tuesday.

Reynolds signed the bill after a lunchtime speech at the Family Leadership Summit, which was attended by several Republican presidential candidates seeking the support of crucial evangelical voters before the state’s 2024 caucuses.

Former vice president Mike Pence, one of the attendees, praised Reynolds for the abortion restrictions, saying, “The progress that they’ve made is truly inspiring; it represents one more state in the nation that’s advancing the cause of life.”

Members of the Iowa legislature also joined Reynolds as she signed the ban. People in the crowd stood as they watched, with some holding their phone out to record the moment.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year overturning Roe v. Wade, Reynolds asked a district court to allow a roughly six-week abortion ban that had passed the legislature in 2018 but was challenged in court before it took effect. After the court declined to do so, she took the request to the Iowa Supreme Court, which deadlocked on the matter earlier this year. That left the 22-week guidance in place.

GOP-controlled Iowa legislature votes to ban abortion after about six weeks

Reynolds then called for a rare one-day special session for the “sole purpose” of enacting restrictions on abortion. Protesters on both sides of the issue descended on the state Capitol as Republican lawmakers moved the bill through committees and floor votes in a marathon session.

“Justice for the unborn should not be delayed,” Reynolds said in a statement Tuesday after the legislation was passed.

The new law adds Iowa to the wave of conservative-leaning states — including nearby North Dakota and South Dakota — that have put in place abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

Democrats have said Iowa’s legislation would put someone experiencing a miscarriage at risk by forcing doctors to take extra time determining whether they qualify for an abortion. It also sets unrealistic time constraints for someone to report rape or incest to qualify for an abortion exception under the bill, they said.

States where abortion is legal, banned or under threat

“Every day this law is in effect, Iowans will face life-threatening barriers to getting desperately needed medical care — just as we have seen in other states with similar bans,” Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa, said in a statement.

The ACLU is part of the group suing to block the law. Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Emma Goldman Clinic are other participants.

Hundreds of patients who are scheduled for abortions over the next couple of weeks could face expensive and time-consuming disruptions as the law goes into effect, according to the lawsuit. Most of them have already passed the six-week mark in their pregnancy, the suit says.

Planned Parenthood has been warning patients about the potential abortion restrictions for a while, said Emily Boevers, a physician at Iowa City’s Planned Parenthood clinic, and advised them that they may need to go to a nearby state, like Minnesota or Illinois, where there are not similar restrictions.

“The most compassionate help I do is helping a woman who needs an abortion to get a safe one now,” said Boevers. “Iowa is now trying to erase the rights of 1.5 million women. It’s right there on our state motto, ‘Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.’ As an Iowan, I’m ashamed.”

Marianne LeVine in Des Moines contributed to this report.

Iowa governor signs one of country’s most restrictive abortion bans

The bill prohibits almost all abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy; a judge is considering its legality.

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