Iowa’s Six-Week Abortion Ban Temporarily Blocked

DES MOINES, IOWA - OCTOBER 09: The Iowa State Capitol building is seen on October 09, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. The 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses will take place on February 3, 2020, making it the first nominating contest in the Democratic Party presidential primaries. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IOWA – OCTOBER 09: The Iowa State Capitol building is seen on October 09, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
6:05 PM – Monday, July 17, 2023

A judge on Monday temporarily blocked Iowa’s recently signed law that would have banned abortions as early as six weeks, allowing abortions in Iowa to be legal up to 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

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The new law that was recently paused had banned all abortions when heart activity from the fetus can be detected, which typically occurs at six weeks into a pregnancy. This law was signed on Friday by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. 

The proposal was passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last week during a rare all-day special session, triggering a legal challenge from the Emma Goldman Clinic, Planned Parenthood North Central States, and the ACLU of Iowa. As Reynolds signed the bill into law, Judge Joseph Seidlin held a hearing on the case on Friday but decided to put it on pause after careful consideration.

The court’s decision on Monday declared that the state’s Board of Medicine should continue developing enforcement guidelines even though the statute is currently on hold. If the law were to be put into action later, the guidelines for healthcare providers would be clearly laid out in this manner.

After the point in a pregnancy where cardiac activity is detected, there are a few specific situations under the legislation that would allow for abortion. Rape, if reported to law enforcement or a healthcare provider within 45 days, incest, if reported within 145 days and if the fetus has a fetal abnormality that is “incompatible with life,” or if the pregnancy is endangering the life of the pregnant mother.

According to Seidlin, his decision on Monday was dependent on the “undue burden” test, an intermediate degree of examination that demands restrictions must not significantly impede abortion.

In its most recent decisions on the subject, the state Supreme Court stated that excessive burden continues to exist “with an invitation to litigate the issue further.”

State attorneys argued that the law should be analyzed using rational basis review, the lowest level of scrutiny to judge legal challenges.

Similar limits exist in several other states but they are on hold, pending court decisions, as is the case right now in Iowa.

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