Fetal Heartbeat Law in Iowa On Hold After Lawsuit

Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert granted a temporary injunction preventing implementation of the state’s fetal heartbeat law while a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and a local abortion clinic moves forward.

The law, which was scheduled to take effect July 1, banned most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected—usually around six weeks into a pregnancy. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law in May. Legislators hoped it could eventually help overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

The suit, however, claims the new law violated women’s due process rights to liberty, safety and happiness under the Iowa state constitution. The tactic of suing in state court rather than federal was an attempt to keep the case from eventually reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, declined to defend the state in the case because he believes the law is harmful to women’s rights, so Iowa will be represented by the Thomas More Society, a national nonprofit firm specializing in pro-life cases.