By Rachel James
Iowa Polk County Court is currently debating a fetal heartbeat abortion ban that would halt the abortion of a fetus with a detectable heartbeat. Judge Michael Huppert placed a temporary injunction on the ban while the courts debate its constitutionality.
The bill was scheduled to go into effect on July 1, but due to the injunction, women are able to access abortions while the case is being discussed. This case came about after a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in conjunction with Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic. They advocate that the law goes against a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion.
The state of Iowa is represented by the Thomas More Society after Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller disqualified himself from the case with his Solicitor General, Jeffrey Thompson, stating that “the disqualification is based on the Attorney General’s determination that he could not zealously assert the state’s position because of his core belief that the statute, if upheld, would undermine rights and protections for women.”
Governor Kim Reynolds signed the heartbeat bill back in May after Iowa Republicans passed Senate File 359. The bill has been met with backlash from pro-choice advocates who say the law is unconstitutional and that it takes away a woman’s autonomy.
The debate is focused on Roe v. Wade, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave women the right to an abortion during their first trimester due to the privacy protection under the fourteenth amendment. Conservatives groups such as The Family Leader oppose the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and hope to see it overturned in the Supreme Court.
However, several similar cases have not made it to the Supreme Court due to the court’s rules on precedent, meaning that the Supreme Court declines to hear similar cases on which they have made a previous ruling.
Save the 1, a Michigan-based organization, now wants to add their claims to the legal challenge fronted by the ACLU. The organization claims that the bill’s exceptions for victims of rape are also unconstitutional because, according to their mission statement, “all pre-born children should be protected by law and accepted by society, without exception and without compromise.”
If added to the case, this could be a conflict of interest, seeing as the Thomas More Society has represented Save the 1 in the past and now would have to face them in trial.
If Save the 1 were to intervene, it could further complicate the case. Save the 1 has filed as third-party intervenors “of right” because they claim the clause about rape, fetal defects and incest exceptions allow for the doctor to be the judge on whether a woman can get an abortion.
When contacted about Save the 1’s involvement, public relations for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland stated that they “cannot comment on ongoing litigation,” though they did state that they are “confident that the Iowa Constitution protects the right to have a legal abortion.” The case will continue to play out in court in the coming weeks.