Iowa Supreme Court Building
Photo credit: Ctjf83 via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-SA 3.0)

When Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 359, historic legislation that protects unborn babies from being aborted upon the detection of a heartbeat (approximately six weeks) in most circumstances, she expected a court challenge before the law could take effect on July 1.

“I understand and anticipate that this will likely be challenged in court, and that courts may even put a hold on the law until it reaches the Supreme Court. However, this is bigger than just a law. This is about life. I am not going to back down from who I am or what I believe in,” she said upon signing the bill.

On Tuesday, ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit in Polk County District Court in an attempt to block the law from taking effect.

“This abortion ban is beyond extreme,” Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa Legal Director said. “With it, Iowa politicians have tried to ban virtually all abortions for women in our state. In the 45 years since Roe, no federal or state court has upheld such a dangerous law.”

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office announced that he would recuse himself from defending the new law. Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson said in a letter that Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s decision to disqualify himself “is based on the Attorney General’s determination that he could not zealously assert the state’s position because of his core belief that the statute, if upheld, would undermine rights and protections for women.”

Miller, a Democrat, is a pro-abortion advocate who once ran as a “pro-life Democrat” and like many in his party has changed his position as the party has tacked further to the left on the life issue.

The Thomas More Society has agreed to represent the Governor’s office in the lawsuit at no cost to taxpayers.

The FAMiLY Leader, a socially conservative organization, based in Iowa, launched a petition on Thursday for supporters of the law to add their names urging the courts to uphold the law and protect the unborn. The petition will be part of an amicus brief the organization will prepare for an eventual appeal beyond the state district court level.

“We’re urging the courts to recognize that for many, many Americans, the abortion debate is about something even Roe v. Wade admitted is far more fundamental than choice – the unalienable right to life,” Chuck Hurley, Vice President and Chief Counsel of The FAMiLY Leader, said. “When the child in the womb has her own, distinct DNA and her own, distinct heartbeat, it’s clear she’s not a disposable part of the mother … she’s a baby.”

“This truly is a historic opportunity,” Hurley added. “I’m not aware of another instance of a petition being filed through an amicus brief. But our Constitution begins with the words ‘We the People,’ and it’s entirely appropriate that the courts hear the voices of the ‘People’ from whom they derive their authority.”

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