Two Major Pro-Choice Abortion Victories in New York and Iowa
New York extended abortion rights and Iowa’s controversial fetal heartbeat law was struck down and ruled unconstitutional.
On Tuesday a District Court judge overturned Iowa’s “fetal heartbeat” law which banned abortions once heartbeat activity was detected, usually at around six weeks. The law was first passed by a Republican-controlled state legislature in May 2018 and considered the most restrictive abortion ban in the country.
In the ruling, District Court Judge Michael Huppert wrote, “It is undisputed that such cardiac activity is detectable well in advance of the fetus becoming viable.”
A fetus is usually considered viable outside of the womb at 24 weeks and marks the threshold of when abortion is generally considered prohibited in the US.
The challenge to the Iowa abortion ban was brought by three groups: the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City.
Activists on both sides of the abortion issue had previously told Reuters that the law was passed in hopes of bringing a challenge to Roe v. Wade before an increasingly conservative Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade was the landmark 1973 case where the Supreme Court ruled that women have a constitutional right to abortion.
Iowa state Sen. Janet Petersen of Des Moines, the Democrats’ leader in the Iowa Senate, praised the ruling.
“The extreme law should have been overturned, because it restricted the freedom of Iowa women and girls to care for their bodies, and it forced motherhood on them,” she told the Des Moines Register. “The governor and legislative Republicans should stop attacking women’s health care.”
Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement she is “incredibly disappointed” in the ruling because she believes “a beating heart indicates life.” Reynolds signed the bill into law in May of 2018.
According to Iowa Public Radio, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down a separate abortion restriction in June 2018. That opinion found the Iowa Constitution protects abortion as a fundamental right, and only laws “narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest” can legally restrict abortion.
Given Iowa Republican’s goal of challenging Roe v. Wade an appeal of the ruling is likely though state officials have not yet stated whether they will appeal.
New York Extends Abortion Rights to Protect Mother
In other abortion news around the country, New York on Tuesday signed into law a provision allowing abortions up until a baby’s due date if the mother’s health is at risk. New York law had only allowed such abortions up until 24 weeks, regardless of the mother’s health.
“In the face of a federal government intent on rolling back Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive rights, I promised that we would enact this critical legislation within the first 30 days of the new session — and we got it done,” Cuomo said in a statement. According to CBS, he directed state landmarks like the spire of One World Trade Center to be lit up in pink to “shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.”
Sarah Weddington, the attorney who successfully argued Roe before the Supreme Court, was with Cuomo when he signed New York’s Reproductive Health Act into law.
“Thank you for what you’ve done for women,” Weddington told the governor, lawmakers and advocates.
Tuesday’s decisions came on the 46th anniversary of the Roe v Wade ruling which was issued on January 22, 1973.