Abortion in Iowa is legal again, for now, after a judge blocks new restrictions
Jul 17, 2023, 1:37 PM | Updated: 2:10 pm
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa judge on Monday temporarily blocked the state’s Kim Reynolds signed the measure into law.
That means abortion is once again legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy while the courts assess the new law’s constitutionality.
The new law prohibits almost all abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.
The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the measure in a rare, all-day special session last week, prompting a held a hearing on the matter Friday, but said he would take the issue under advisement — just as Reynolds signed the bill into law about a mile away.
Abortion providers said they scrambled last week to fit in as many appointments as possible before the governor put pen to paper, preemptively making hundreds of calls to prepare patients for the uncertainty and keeping clinics open late.
Reynolds swiftly put out a statement underscoring her intention to fight the issue in the state Supreme Court.
“The abortion industry’s attempt to thwart the will of Iowans and the voices of their elected representatives continues today,” she said.
The ruling Monday does specify that while the law is temporarily paused, the state’s Board of Medicine should proceed with rules for enforcement so that specific rules for health care providers will be well defined if the law were to be in effect in the future.
There are limited circumstances under the law that would allow for abortion after the point in a pregnancy where cardiac activity is detected: rape, if reported to law enforcement or a health provider within 45 days; incest, if reported within 145 days; if the fetus has a fetal abnormality “incompatible with life;” or if the pregnancy is endangering the life of the pregnant woman.
Most Republican-led states have drastically limited abortion access in the year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and handed authority on abortion law to the states. More than a dozen states have bans with limited exceptions and one state, Georgia, bans abortion after cardiac activity is detected.
Several other states have similar restrictions that are on hold pending court rulings, as is now the case in Iowa.