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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds plans to appeal block on state’s new abortion law

  • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law on July 14, 2023, banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy in the state.
  • Multiple organizations, including Planned Parenthood North Central States, challenged the law leading to the law being temporarily blocked.
  • Reynolds says that she plans to appeal the block, claiming ‘it’s just a matter of time.’

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said on Tuesday that plans are in progress to appeal a temporary block on the state’s new, restrictive abortion law, previewing a likely emotional court battle that could take months to resolve.

Reynolds told reporters at the Iowa Capitol that her staff is working with lawyers in Attorney General Brenna Bird’s office to work out the details, so ‘it’s just a matter of time,’ she said.

The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the measure to ban most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy during a special session last week, and the law went into effect Friday, immediately after Reynolds signed it. The ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Emma Goldman Clinic launched a legal challenge and on Monday, Judge Joseph Seidlin granted their request to pause the law as the courts assess its constitutionality.

Abortion remains legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy since the new law is on hold.

Abortion providers said they scrambled to fit in as many appointments as possible before the governor signed the bill, making hundreds of calls to prepare patients for the uncertainty and keeping clinics open late.

After the ruling, providers at Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic indicated they were relieved but conscious of the long legal fight ahead.

‘The state’s relentless efforts to ban abortion even before many people know they are pregnant continue, but whenever that appeal is filed, we will keep working together to protect the rights of Iowans to safe and legal abortion care,’ Rita Bettis Austen, legal director at ACLU of Iowa, said in a statement.

Seidlin wrote that the law must stand up to the ‘undue burden’ test until the state Supreme Court says otherwise. That means it must not be too difficult for individuals to exercise their rights. He said that under that test, abortion advocates are likely correct in saying the new law violates Iowans’ rights under the state Constitution.

Lawyers for the state argued — and would likely continue to argue — that the law should be judged against a lower standard. Because the government has an interest in protecting life, they argue, the law should withstand legal challenges.

‘I think the bill that we passed is constitutional, especially with the changes that we’ve seen,’ said Reynolds, who alluded to the Iowa Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court reversing previous rulings that affirmed a woman’s fundamental right to abortion.

‘We passed it, it went into law, and for three days we were saving babies,’ she said. ‘I think the right to life is the most important right that we have.’

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