Court Stops Pro-Life Iowa Law From Going Into Effect That Will Save Babies From Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 5, 2017   |   11:28AM   |   Des Moines, Iowa

UPDATE: The Iowa Supreme Court has issued an emergency order stopping the law from going into effect:

The Iowa Supreme Court issued an emergency order Friday halting the enforcement of a new state law that imposes a 72-hour wait on all abortions in Iowa.

Gov. Terry Branstad signed Senate File 471 at 8:30 a.m. Friday and the state’s highest court responded within hours by granting a temporary injunction at the request of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.

The drama over the new abortion restrictions followed the denial of a request for a temporary injunction Thursday by Judge Jeffrey Farrell in Polk County District Court. Planned Parenthood’s lawyer said it had 44 patients scheduled for abortions in Iowa, including 33 medication abortion patients.

An Iowa law requiring that women wait 72 hours before having an abortion is scheduled to take effect Friday after a judge refused abortion activists’ request to block it.

KCCI News 8 reports Gov. Terry Branstad plans to sign the law this morning, and it will take effect immediately. The law requires that abortion facilities give women 72 hours between receiving informed consent information and having the abortion.

The law also prohibits abortions after 20 weeks when strong scientific evidence indicates unborn babies can feel pain. Abortion activists with Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union did not challenge the 20-week ban.

ACLU lawyers recently asked Iowa Judge Jeffrey Farrell to block the 72-hour waiting period segment of the law, arguing that it immediately would harm women who have abortions scheduled, the AP reports.

On Thursday, Farrell refused to block the law. He said the ACLU failed to show how the new law would create an undue burden for women seeking abortions.

Here’s more from the Quad-City Times:

In arguing for the temporary injunction, Planned Parenthood attorney Alice Clapman said 44 women who had appointments at Iowa clinics would be adversely affected by the new law’s mandatory three-day waiting period, and one woman already had to delay a two-hour medical procedure Thursday because of uncertainty over the law that would take effect upon the governor’s signature. Another 11 women with medication abortions set for next Tuesday could now be in jeopardy of losing that option, she said.

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“These are not speculative harms,” Clapman said in refuting some of the state’s arguments against delaying implementation. She said the state’s mandate of a three-day, two-trip delay would be “irreversibly and severely” harmful for low-income clients and women facing abusive domestic situations.

But Iowa Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson pointed to Planned Parenthood’s business hours and scheduling as the problem, not the law itself, the AP reports.

“In the end, there’s a lot of stuff in the record, but it’s not evidence that supports and satisfies the burden to show this statute causes irreparable harm to them,” Thompson said.

Attorneys for the abortion groups said they plan to appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.

The new Iowa law helps to ensure that women receive information about the abortion and their unborn baby, as well as time to consider that information before making an irreversible decision about their baby’s life.

Along with the 20-week ban and the 72-hour waiting period, the law also requires abortion facilities to offer women with detailed information about their unborn baby via ultrasound, including a description of the baby’s body and the opportunity to hear his/her heartbeat.

These requirements are vitally important because abortion clinics often fail to inform women about their unborn baby’s development, abortion risks and other relevant details.

On Thursday, Gov. Branstad praised state lawmakers for passing the law. He is scheduled to sign it at 8:30 a.m. today.

“I think this is something that a lot of Iowans have been looking for for a long time,” Branstad said. “I’m looking forward to signing the bill, and I’m very hopeful that it will be upheld by the courts.”

The law also will make Iowa the 17th state to prohibit late-term abortions beginning at 20 weeks when strong scientific evidence indicates unborn babies can feel pain.