Iowa heartbeat abortion law struck down by state judge

Catholic News Agency | 1/23/2019 | Staff
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Des Moines, Iowa, Jan 23, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An Iowa judge struck down Tuesday a law basing an abortion ban on a fetal heartbeat, blocking the implementation of one of the strictest abortion bans in the U.S.

“I am incredibly disappointed in today’s court ruling, because I believe that if death is determined when a heart stops beating, then a beating heart indicates life,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement.

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Polk County District Judge Michael Huppert decided the case immediately because no facts were in dispute, the Des Moines Register said.

His nine-page ruling, issued Jan. 22, cited a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court decision striking down a 72-hour waiting period for abortion, on the grounds that “a woman’s right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy is a fundamental right under the Iowa Constitution.” He said the law’s defenders didn’t identify a compelling state interest to bar abortions based on when a fetal heartbeat is detected.

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The 2018 law would have required any women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound to determine whether a fetal heartbeat can be detected, a milestone usually detected around the sixth week of pregnancy. The legislation made some exceptions for pregnancies conceived through rape or incest, as well as fetal abnormality, or if a doctor determines that a woman’s life is in danger.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller declined to defend the law. Lawyers from the Chicago-based Thomas More Society argued on its behalf in court at no expense to taxpayers.

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They previously argued against the claim that facts were not in dispute, saying that the law is not a blanket ban, but a tailored regulation.

Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life, voiced hope that the ruling would be overturned on appeal. She said it was a “travesty of justice” that the judge would...
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