Lawsuit filed against fetal heartbeat law

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Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa filed a lawsuit against the so-called "heartbeat law". They say the state constitution, not the U.S. Constitution, guarantees a woman's right to abortion.

A court challenge to Iowa's new law banning most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected had been expected since Gov. Kim Reynolds announced she'd sign the bill that Republicans pushed through legislature.

Nearly immediately, the state's attorney general said he would not defend the law.

"This abortion ban is beyond extreme", said Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa legal director.

Iowa Republicans past 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.

They seek to have the law struck down as unconstitutional and are requesting a temporary injunction with an expedited hearing within 14 days as the case progresses.

Miller said the Thomas More Society, a conservative Chicago-based law firm, has agreed to defend the law for free.

The law contains certain ultrasound requirements, though Tuesday's lawsuit only challenges the heartbeat ban portion of the law. It prohibits a physician from performing an abortion "when it has been determined that the unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat", which happens at about six weeks.

"The complaint presents the medical facts that this law will make safe and legal abortion virtually disappear in Iowa", said Alice Clapman, an attorney with Planned Parenthood Federation of America who will act as co-counsel with Bettis.

The bill does not specify criminal or civil penalties for those breaking the law.

Separately, a new Iowa-based coalition of anti-abortion organizations was formed previous year to renew efforts toward an abortion ban.

Thompson told reporters the new law would be an "almost-complete ban" on abortions, as only about 2 percent of the abortions at her clinic are performed at or before the sixth week of a pregnancy.

Governor Reynolds said in a statement when she signed the bill, "I believe that all innocent life is precious and sacred, and as governor, I pledged to do everything in my power to protect it". "And we will continue to fight the efforts of anti-woman politicians to interfere in our personal health care decisions and lives".

The ACLU of Iowa argues that if the court upholds the 72-hour wait period as well as the six-week ban, women will be placed in a unsafe position where they are forced to either carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, obtain an abortion in another state or self-induce an abortion.

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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