Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union's Iowa branch said they sued on Tuesday to stop a state law that would impose the strictest abortion limits in the United States from taking effect.
The lawsuit was filed in Polk County District Court by attorneys with the ACLU of Iowa and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Dr. Jill Meadows and the Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City.
The lawsuit was anticipated by some sponsors of the law, who hoped to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision that established that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.
The law does have a few exceptions, but the ACLU of Iowa says they're "so narrow and vague that they fail to protect women in extremely vulnerable or risky circumstances". "In the 45 years since Roe, no federal or state court has upheld such a unsafe law".
If and when Iowa's fetal heartbeat abortion ban takes effect, Quad-City patients seeking abortion services will need to travel about 90 miles to one of two family planning facilities in IL.
"We believe that the Iowa Constitution protects abortion rights as strongly, if not more so, than the federal constitution", Bettis said.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said after signing the bill on Saturday that the "work is not done" when it comes to restricting abortions in the state.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, previously indicated his office would disqualify itself and not represent the state in defense of the "heartbeat" law if a legal challenge was filed.
"Planned Parenthood is challenging this law because the Iowa Constitution is clear a woman has a right to access a safe and legal abortion".
It bans abortions after a heart beat is detected from an ultrasound, which typically occurs around six weeks into a pregnancy. "It seems very uncharacteristic and extreme for an abortion ban of this magnitude to happen here".
The law contains a narrow exception in cases where a person's life is endangered by the pregnancy, and for cases of rape and incest. A challenge against the 72-hour law is now pending before the Iowa Supreme Court.
Thompson told reporters the new law would be an "almost-complete ban" on abortions, as only about 2 percent of the abortions at her clinic are performed at or before the sixth week of a pregnancy. "It's also important to note that the exceptions in the law are essentially non-exceptions".