Iowa Wants to Ban Abortions After 6 Weeks. Planned Parenthood Just Filed a Lawsuit to Stop It.

Republicans are continuing their efforts to push an abortion case up to the Supreme Court.

Planned Parenthood supporters rally outside the Iowa Capitol Building, Friday, May 4, 2018.Barbara Rodriguez/AP

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A lawsuit filed Tuesday by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa seeks to block Iowa’s recently-passed “heartbeat” abortion law, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. 

The law, set to go into effect July 1, bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, generally about six weeks into a pregnancy—before some women know they’re pregnant. The “heartbeat” bill passed the Iowa House and Senate earlier this month and was signed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds soon after. 

In a statement, Planned Parenthood called the law “blatantly unconstitutional” and “extremely harmful to women.” The statement says that the lawsuit, filed in Iowa state court on behalf of plaintiffs Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Dr. Jill Meadows, and The Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City, will invoke the authority of Roe v. Wade, which “guaranteed a woman’s constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion” 45 years ago. 

“Today, we’re fighting back in court for every person’s individual rights and freedoms, which go to the heart of who we are as a country,” said Planned Parenthood Vice President Dawn Laguens, in a statement Tuesday. “This dangerous law decimates a woman’s right to control her life at the most basic level, including whether and when to become a parent.”

On the day Reynolds signed the bill, she said she anticipated it would “likely be challenged in court, and that courts may even put a hold on the law until it reaches the Supreme Court.” Despite the legal challenges, she said, “This is about life; I am not going to back down from who I am or what I believe in.” Some Iowa Republicans have gone even further, saying they hoped the law would be challenged as a route toward a Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe v. Wade

“Today we will begin this journey as Iowa becomes ground zero nationally for the life movement and the starting line back to the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Rick Bertrand (R-Sioux City) during a floor debate over the “heartbeat” bill earlier this month. “I believe this bill will be the vehicle that will ultimately provide change and provide the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade.” 

Similar lawsuits are underway in Mississippi, which passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks, and Kentucky, which banned abortions after 11 weeks. 

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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