A State judge has struck down Iowa’s fetal heartbeat abortion law, declaring the legislation to be “unconstitutional”.
In a decision handed down Tuesday, Judge Michael Huppert said prohibiting abortions at the detection of a fetal heartbeat conflicted with the constitutional right of women to an abortion. He said that the law violated “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”.
Judge Huppert cited past Iowa Supreme Court decisions as well as several cases in federal court, including decisions in 2015 and 2016 in the eighth US circuit court of appeals that indicated such abortion laws were unconstitutional.
The law would ban an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
Abortion rights groups praised the court’s 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.
Iowa governor Kim Reynolds, who signed the bill in the law, said that he was disappointed with the ruling. “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.
Also this week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a controversial new state abortion bill that will give women the right to access abortion up to 24 weeks into pregnancy. New York’s Reproductive Health Act removes abortion from the state’s criminal code. Abortion may also be permitted later than 24 weeks in the pregnancy in cases where the fetus is not viable or where a woman’s life is at risk. “Today we are taking a giant step forward in the hard-fought battle to ensure a woman's right to make her own decisions about her own personal health”, Cuomo said. He described the new law as a way to protect abortion rights against an increasingly hostile Supreme Court.
Critics said that the law was too far-reaching. “We need to be honest with the public and say that this bill does not simply codify Roe v. Wade… what this bill does is expand abortion up to birth and the third trimester,” State Assembly Republican Nicole Malliotakis argued before the state legislature.
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