Abortion in Iowa is legal again, for now, after a judge blocks new restrictions

17 July 2023

DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa judge on Monday temporarily blocked the state’s new ban on most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, just days after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the measure into law.

That means abortion is once again legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy while the courts assess the new law’s constitutionality.

The new law prohibits almost all abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.

The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the measure in a rare, all-day special session last week, prompting a legal challenge by the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Emma Goldman Clinic. Judge Joseph Seidlin held a hearing on the matter Friday, but said he would take the issue under advisement — just as Reynolds signed the bill into law about a mile away.

Abortion providers said they scrambled last week to fit in as many appointments as possible before the governor put pen to paper, preemptively making hundreds of calls to prepare patients for the uncertainty and keeping clinics open late.

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