On June 1, Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert temporarily blocked Iowa’s fetal heartbeat ban, SF 359, from going into effect until the case can make its way through the appropriate legal channels.
The lawsuit to block the measure was filed in May by the ACLU of Iowa and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Legal director for the ACLU of Iowa, Rita Bettis calls the abortion ban “beyond extreme,” and asserts that its passage would virtually ban all abortions in the state as fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as 6 weeks into a pregnancy, a point before many women know that they are pregnant.
In addition to affecting time limits for abortions, the ban would also require clinics in the state to purchase ultrasound technology that is able to detect heartbeats. This technology is not standard equipment and could place an undue burden on independent clinics in particular.
SF 359 is just one in a series of bills passed at the state level that attempts to restrict abortion access since the outset of the Trump administration, including 63 restrictions adopted by 19 states in 2017 alone.
In May, the Louisiana State House passed a bill that would result in abortion being banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy. If successful, Louisiana women would be denied termination options earlier than the current 20-week mark, with the penalty of up to $100,000 fines and 10 years in prison for any doctor found to have violated the law. The implementation of this law hinges upon federal courts upholding a fifteen week abortion ban in Mississippi, which was temporarily blocked by US District Court Judge Carlton Reeves.
Media Resources: De Moines Register 6/1/18; Citizen Times 5/16/17; ACLU Iowa 5/15/18; Guttmacher Institute 1/2/18; Feminist Majority Foundation 5/21/18, 5/29/18; The Advocate 5/30/18; Reuters 3/20/18; NPR 5/29/18; New York Times 1/29/18;