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ACLU, Planned Parenthood, file suit against Iowa over halting abortions

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and Planned Parenthood filed suit Monday against Iowa state officials based on governor's order halting abortions during the coronavirus pandemic. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and Planned Parenthood filed suit Monday against Iowa state officials based on governor's order halting abortions during the coronavirus pandemic. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

March 30 (UPI) -- The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit Monday against Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds' order halting abortions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Pat Garrett, a spokesman for Reynolds, told the Des Moines Register Friday that the governors' proclamation earlier this week to suspend "non-essential" medical procedures through mid-April included surgical abortion.

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The lawsuit filed in Johnson County District Court against Reynolds and other state officials "asks the court for an emergency injunction to block the Governor's Proclamation as it applies to abortions," an ACLU of Iowa statement said Monday.

The suit was filed on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which offers services at health centers in Iowa and Nebraska, its medical director Jill Meadows, and the abortion clinic called Emma Goldman Clinic, based in Iowa City.

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"Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure," Planned Parenthood's Iowa Executive Director Erin Davison-Rippey said in a statement. "We are in a critical moment for our state when we must come together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, not politicize health care services that are constitutionally protected. Iowans are doing all they can to protect their families and communities during this pandemic and Planned Parenthood is focused on providing our patients with crucial services they need."

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The Iowa Constitution grants women a fundamental right to abortion, according a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling, which the lawsuit cites.

Reynolds has been a vocal pro-life advocate for years and in 2018 signed one of the most restrictive state abortion bans in the nation into law, known as the "heartbeat" bill, banning the procedure after six weeks.

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The pro-life governor has defended her position and said it is not because of her ideology, but part of plan to deal with national shortage in medical equipment during the pandemic.

However, the lawsuit says the governor calling abortions non-essential procedures "flagrantly defies clear and binding constitutional precedent," showing "protected liberty interest in terminating an unwanted pregnancy."

Officials in Texas, Ohio and Mississippi have also halted abortion procedures amid the pandemic.

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