DES MOINES, Iowa — The controversial fetal heartbeat abortion bill is being put on pause as the case works its way through the Iowa legal system.
Friday morning a judge granted a temporary injunction, preventing the bill from being enforced until the courts rule on it.
The bill would make it illegal for women to receive an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected; often before a woman knows she’s pregnant.
It was to take effect July 1.
The injunction hearing took a matter of minutes. It was so short because the state agreed to the demands of the petitioners beforehand.
The ACLU, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Emma Goldman Clinic wanted this bill put on pause.
Lawyers for the state ceded a legal fight Friday and agreed to the injunction. In an interview with WHO’s sister station KWWL, Governor Kim Reynolds says their focus is on the actual hearings and says skipping a full injunction hearing will allow the state’s lawyers more time to prepare.
“When I signed the bill, I did that because I believe it’s immoral to stop a beating heart, and I am pro-life. Iowans have elected a pro-life legislature and I feel we should do what we can to protect the unborn. So, now we’ll let that go before the courts and we’ll let that play out” said Reynolds.
Meanwhile, the ACLU says this decision was the best they could have hoped for.
“At the end of the day that resolves the uncertainty so that women in Iowa don’t have to live with the burden of that uncertainty of knowing whether or not if they’ll have abortion rights come July 1st” said ACLU Legal Director Rita Bettis
So, what comes next?
The ACLU and their co-petitioners filed this claim in state court, so instead of working its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, the likely landing spot will be the Iowa Supreme Court.
“We have made our claims under the Iowa Constitution which protects these fundamental rights to an even greater extent than the U.S. Constitution” said Bettis.
The ACLU claims the bill violates the right of due process for women seeking an abortion as guaranteed by the Iowa constitution. They also claim it violates the rights to liberty, safety, and happiness, as well as equal protection under the law. A legal expert at Drake University says filing in state court limits the ways this case could challenge Roe v Wade in the U.S. Supreme Court to just one.
Professor Sally Frank says the only way this could go to the U.S. Supreme Court is if the Iowa Supreme Court bases their decision on U.S. constitutional law rather than the state constitution.
A fetal heartbeat ban was signed in North Dakota in 2013. The bill was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court and that ruling was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.