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Iowa Constitution bars new fetal heartbeat abortion law, Planned Parenthood and ACLU say in lawsuit

Challengers of legislation that would give Iowa the strictest abortion restrictions in the country say the law is incompatible with the Iowa Constitution.

The ACLU, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Iowa City-based Emma Goldman Clinic sued Tuesday in Polk County District Court, aimed at stopping implementation of the "fetal heartbeat" law before it takes effect July 1 and eventually at striking it down completely.

The suit argues that the law violates Iowa women’s due-process rights, their rights to liberty, safety and happiness and their rights to equal protection under Iowa’s constitution.

...The law includes exceptions if the woman was raped or was the victim of incest and reports the crime to law enforcement within a certain period of time, and if the fetus has an abnormality that, in the physician's "reasonable medical judgment," is incompatible with life.

In a news release, the plaintiffs said the exceptions "are so narrow and vague that they fail to protect women in extremely vulnerable or dangerous circumstances."

"Survivors of rape and incest often do not feel safe in reporting the crime and can risk being kicked out of their homes, of losing their source of financial support and even risk their lives by reporting the crimes committed against them," Thompson said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Kerri True-Funk, associate director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said she filed an affidavit in support of the motion to block the law that says that "women in abusive situations are at heightened risk of unwanted pregnancy" and need access to abortion. The law does not offer enough guidance about when the rape and incest exceptions apply, she wrote.

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