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Planned Parenthood, ACLU Keep Iowa Abortion Bill in Legal Limbo

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In May, the Iowa Senate passed a bill that would require a 72-hour waiting period before procuring an abortion. 

Gov. Terry Branstad had not even signed the bill when Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Iowa. On May 4, Judge Jeffrey Farrell ruled in favor of the state.

But the next day, when the bill was to be signed into law, the ACLU filed an emergency stay, asking the Iowa Supreme court to temporarily stop the implementation of law. The court agreed with the argument that the law would unfairly impact women in poverty and issued a temporary block. 

Now, the law is back in court. This time, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are bringing the case before a district court, challenging the state's law on the basis of a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion. Oral arguments for the case opened July 19. 

Iowa would become one of 27 states to implement mandatory waiting period requirements for abortions. The law would require women to wait three days after having a consultation along with an ultrasound, in an effort to stop vulnerable or distressed women from being coerced into having an abortion before they are sure they want one.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU argue that such a requirement is "medically unnecessary" and harms women under the poverty line. Suzanna de Baca of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said the proposed law "is among the harshest in the nation and will strip access away from the most vulnerable women who ned abortion care." 

Proponents of the bill say it is a necessary step in protecting unborn children. Jenifer Bowen of Iowa Right to Life explained, "We are seeing for the first time, quite possibly in Iowa history, a bill that will actually save lives."

The case is expected to go on for another week. 

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