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UPDATE: Iowa's 'fetal heartbeat' bill struck down by judge

Says it violates the state constitution.

Posted: Jan 22, 2019 4:23 PM
Updated: Jan 22, 2019 5:34 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state judge on Tuesday struck down Iowa's restrictive "fetal heartbeat" abortion law, which would have been the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the nation.

Judge Michael Huppert found the law unconstitutional, concluding that the Iowa Supreme Court's earlier decisions that affirm a woman's fundamental right to an abortion would include the new law passed last year

He also cited several cases in federal court, including decisions in 2015 and 2016 in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that indicated such abortion laws were unconstitutional.

Huppert said prohibiting abortions at the detection of a fetal heartbeat violates "both the due process and equal protection provisions of the Iowa Constitution as not being narrowly tailored to serve the compelling state interest of promoting potential life."

The law would ban an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

The legal challenge by abortion providers Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Emma Goldman Clinic had halted it from taking effect last July.

"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," Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement.

She signed the bill into law in May 2018.

Supporters of the law are likely to ask the Iowa Supreme Court to hear an appeal of Huppert's ruling.

Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen said the decision sends a strong message to Iowa women that their constitutional rights are important and their health care decisions should be made by them, not politicians.

"The extreme law should have been overturned because it restricted the freedom of Iowa women and girls to care for their bodies and it forced motherhood on them," she said.

The providers argued in court in December that the law is "blatantly unconstitutional under clear Iowa law."

Planned Parenthood attorney Alice Clapman said courts in several states that recognize abortion as a fundamental right — North Dakota, Arkansas and Mississippi included — have dismissed similar abortion bans before trial.

The Iowa Supreme Court in June struck down an earlier law that required a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion, ruling that the restriction was unconstitutional and that "autonomy and dominion over one's body go to the very heart of what it means to be free."

Attorney Martin Cannon argued for the state that the bill is extremely narrow in focus by saying a beating heart signifies life in a fetus and that human life must be protected once an abdominal ultrasound identifies a beating heart. He didn't immediately reply to a message seeking comment.

Cannon said the bill does not prevent an abortion. He said it just pushes women to do it sooner in the pregnancy. He argued there are too many disputed issues to be heard at trial and the judge should not end the lawsuit.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 603614

Reported Deaths: 7596
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1247361769
Ramsey52421894
Dakota46758467
Anoka42679457
Washington27383290
Stearns22542224
St. Louis18112311
Scott17532133
Wright16399148
Olmsted13385102
Sherburne1198694
Carver1065648
Clay825492
Rice8181110
Blue Earth761943
Crow Wing681094
Kandiyohi666785
Chisago618552
Otter Tail585484
Benton582698
Goodhue483373
Douglas475080
Mower470733
Winona460851
Itasca458262
Isanti439564
McLeod428961
Morrison424461
Nobles408150
Beltrami407060
Steele397516
Polk388772
Becker386555
Lyon363953
Carlton352456
Freeborn346832
Pine335023
Nicollet330945
Mille Lacs311554
Brown307940
Le Sueur297025
Todd285532
Cass285432
Meeker263042
Waseca237723
Martin234932
Roseau210721
Wabasha20783
Hubbard195941
Dodge18763
Renville182446
Redwood176338
Houston174016
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Wadena162322
Fillmore157410
Faribault154219
Chippewa153938
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138437
Watonwan13569
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116526
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11296
Murray107010
Swift106918
Koochiching94617
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88617
Wilkin83112
Lake82820
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6034
Grant5938
Lincoln5843
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4017
Traverse3755
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 370526

Reported Deaths: 6038
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58181638
Linn21174339
Scott20284245
Black Hawk16057312
Woodbury15228230
Johnson1460485
Dubuque13495211
Dallas1128199
Pottawattamie11213173
Story1070548
Warren583191
Clinton561393
Cerro Gordo552493
Sioux516874
Webster514594
Muscatine4876106
Marshall486276
Des Moines466870
Wapello4334122
Buena Vista426040
Jasper420672
Plymouth402881
Lee381356
Marion365976
Jones300857
Henry294037
Bremer287760
Carroll286752
Boone268334
Crawford267840
Benton258555
Washington257151
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232251
Jackson225242
Clay216527
Kossuth216266
Tama211671
Delaware210942
Winneshiek197835
Page194522
Buchanan193033
Cedar192023
Hardin187344
Fayette186443
Wright185740
Hamilton181751
Harrison179973
Clayton171057
Butler165935
Madison164519
Mills163324
Floyd162842
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek156936
Allamakee152552
Hancock150034
Iowa149824
Winnebago144331
Cass139254
Calhoun138813
Grundy137133
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131437
Sac130820
Union129935
Louisa129749
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124517
Franklin123323
Guthrie122932
Humboldt119526
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96332
Monroe96230
Unassigned9530
Ida91635
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola79016
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7598
Taylor66712
Fremont6269
Decatur6159
Ringgold56324
Van Buren56318
Wayne54423
Audubon52810
Adams3444
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