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Iowa's 'fetal heartbeat' abortion restriction declared unconstitutional

AP photo - Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds

An Iowa state judge on Tuesday struck down the state's so-called "fetal heartbeat" law, declaring one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bans unconsti...

Posted: Jan 23, 2019 10:30 AM
Updated: Jan 23, 2019 10:33 AM

An Iowa state judge on Tuesday struck down the state's so-called "fetal heartbeat" law, declaring one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bans unconstitutional.

The law, signed in May, would ban doctors from performing most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.

Polk County District Judge Michael Huppert wrote in his decision striking down the law that its defenders didn't identify a compelling state interest in barring most abortions after a fetus' heartbeat can be found, The Des Moines Register reported.

The bill, signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, was challenged by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Emma Goldman Clinic, a move that halted it from taking effect last summer.

Some legislators who support the law said in May they hoped it would lead to a legal battle that reaches the Supreme Court. Emboldened by the court's new conservative majority, they said they think it will help overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the right to an abortion in all 50 states.

"This bill will be the vehicle that will ultimately provide change and provide the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade," state Sen. Rick Bertrand, a Republican, said during the floor debate last year. "There's nothing hidden here about the agenda."

Abortion-rights advocates this week praised the judge's decision to strike down the law, which came 46 years to the day after the Roe v. Wade decision.

"Today's ruling is a victory for every Iowan who has ever needed or will need a safe, legal abortion," Planned Parenthood of the Heartland's medical director, Dr. Jill Meadows, said in a statement.

"We are pleased that especially today, on the 46th anniversary of the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, abortion care was upheld as a safe and legal part of basic reproductive health care."

"Today's victory is essential to the rights and safety of women in Iowa," said Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa. "It follows in the footsteps of the Iowa Supreme Court decision on abortion in 2018 that recognized the fundamental right to a safe and legal abortion for Iowa women, which cannot be legislated away. Today's decision upholds women's freedom and equality in Iowa."

Reynolds said she was disappointed by the decision.

"I am incredibly disappointed in today's court ruling, because I believe that if death is determined when a heart stops beating, then a beating heart indicates life," the governor said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 891099

Reported Deaths: 9406
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1743652015
Ramsey720081036
Dakota65596566
Anoka62204564
Washington39195354
Stearns32672274
St. Louis28594394
Wright25235206
Scott25213181
Olmsted21580127
Sherburne18406126
Carver1620266
Clay11865102
Blue Earth1121766
Rice11172138
Crow Wing10954121
Chisago970675
Kandiyohi9612106
Otter Tail9568124
Benton8767123
Beltrami798592
Goodhue781495
Douglas7642100
Itasca748694
Mower720247
Winona699856
McLeod692983
Isanti678383
Steele666030
Morrison661678
Becker617472
Polk589184
Freeborn548845
Carlton525973
Nobles521254
Lyon517261
Mille Lacs513272
Nicollet507559
Pine498041
Cass490252
Todd480942
Brown463457
Le Sueur443633
Meeker421057
Martin375943
Waseca364232
Wabasha363710
Hubbard348248
Dodge347611
Roseau307631
Fillmore297015
Wadena296239
Redwood276545
Houston264817
Renville263151
Faribault252431
Sibley246117
Pennington245629
Kanabec240834
Cottonwood224132
Aitkin215350
Chippewa215141
Pope201210
Watonwan193720
Yellow Medicine184721
Rock174328
Swift168522
Koochiching165323
Stevens163111
Jackson159016
Clearwater155120
Murray150611
Marshall150521
Pipestone147729
Lake129224
Lac qui Parle119425
Wilkin119015
Mahnomen104514
Norman10299
Grant9679
Big Stone9305
Lincoln8665
Kittson71223
Red Lake70410
Traverse5986
Unassigned550124
Lake of the Woods5235
Cook3000

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516453

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
Audubon74917
Adams5748
Unassigned480
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