Iowa Supreme Court blocks portion of pro-life measure that bans abortions after 20 weeks

(Reuters/Carlos Barria)Iowa Governor Terry Branstad testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to China at Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., U.S., May 2, 2017.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad approved a measure that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy, but the state Supreme Court has blocked a portion of the law that requires women to wait 72 hours before undergoing the procedure.

The legislation prohibits abortion after 20 weeks into pregnancy, but exceptions will be allowed in cases when the mother's life or health is at risk. The measure also requires women to wait 72 hours before getting informed consent counseling and the abortion, and it increases reporting requirements for abortion practitioners and the state Department of Health, according to Life News.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood challenged the provision of the three-day waiting period as well as the requirement for women to make an additional clinical visit before an abortion.

On Thursday, a district judge denied the request for a temporary injunction against a portion of the measure, but it was granted by the state Supreme Court on Friday, just hours after the bill was signed into law by Branstad. The temporary injunction does not appear to affect the 20-week ban.

"We are pleased that the court granted the temporary injunction, ruling on the side of Iowa women who need access to, and have a constitutional right, to safe, legal abortion," Suzanna de Baca, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said in a statement, as reported by Reuters.

Ben Hammes, a spokesman for the Republican governor, said that he is confident that the injunction against the measure will be lifted soon. He contended that the new law marked a "return to a culture that once again respects human life."

Jenifer Bowen, president of Life Right Action, hailed the new law as a victory for unborn babies.

"After a years-long battle to gain a pro-life Senate, Iowa finally succeeded in passing life-saving legislation that bans painful late-term abortions," said Bowen.

"Our state was previously one of the most permissive on abortion, allowing abortion on-demand well beyond five months, more than halfway through pregnancy," she added.

SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser congratulated pro-life lawmakers in Iowa, including the bill's House sponsor Rep. Shannon Lundgren.

"Momentum is building to enact a national ban on late-term abortion. We are encouraged by Iowa's bold move and look forward to the day when all unborn children are protected under the law," said Dannenfelser.

The law makes Iowa the 17th state to ban abortions after 20-weeks, the period when unborn babies are believed to start being capable of feeling pain.

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