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A district court judge temporarily blocked Iowa’s law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy just three days after Governor Kim Reynolds signed the legislation.
The measure, which was challenged in court by abortion providers, aims to ban the procedure past when fetal cardiac activity can be detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for when the life of the mother is in danger and fetal abnormalities that would result in the baby’s death, rapes reported within 45 days, and incest reported within 140 days.
But Polk County District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin issued a temporary injunction on Monday blocking enforcement of the new abortion restrictions, making it legal again for pregnant women to terminate the life of an unborn child up to 20 weeks within the state.
“The court will grant the temporary injunction requested here. In doing so, it recognizes that there are good, honorable and intelligent people — morally, politically and legally — on both sides of this upsetting societal and constitutional dilemma,” Seidlin wrote, according to NBC. “Patience and perseverance are also hallmark traits on both sides, traits that continue to deserve respect.”
“The court believes it must follow current Iowa Supreme Court precedent and preserve the status quo ante while this litigation” moves forward, he added.
The bill emphasizes that the law is “not to be construed to impose civil or criminal liability on a woman upon whom an abortion is performed in violation of the division.” However, the bill allows Iowa’s Board of Medicine leeway on deciding any punishments for abortion providers who violate the law, a rule-making process that Sidling said could move forward while the legal challenge plays out, per KGAN.
Seidlin’s order comes after the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States, and the Emma Goldman Clinic filed a legal challenge last week before the legislation reached the governor’s desk.
During a hearing on Friday, representatives for the plaintiffs spoke in front of Seidlin, who reportedly said he could not imagine “anything that would be more insulting to either side” than for him to “flippantly” rule from the bench.
Reynolds responded to the judge’s order on Monday, vowing to bring the fight to the Iowa Supreme Court.
“In their own words, the abortion industry stressed the need for a temporary injunction so they could continue with 200 scheduled abortions in the next two weeks,” Reynolds said in a news release. “While Life was protected for a few days, now even more innocent babies will be lost.”
“The abortion industry’s attempt to thwart the will of Iowans and the voices of their elected representatives continues today, but I will fight this all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court where we expect a decision that will finally provide justice for the unborn,” she added.
Iowa’s “heartbeat” law is the latest in a string of GOP-led state laws restricting abortion after the Supreme Court in June last year overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion legal nationwide.
Abortion is currently banned throughout varying stages of pregnancy in more than a dozen states, which have different exceptions depending on the state, and certain restrictions in other states are currently not in effect due to being stuck in court.
Mairead Elordi contributed to this report.