Another State Just Imposed A 20-Week Abortion Ban

Photo: Ted Soqui/Corbis/Getty Images.

Iowa just became the 18th state to impose a 20-week ban on abortion. The controversial bill, which also stipulates that women wait 72 hours between counseling and the procedure, was signed into law on Friday by Gov. Terry Branstad.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood legally challenged the waiting period and additional clinical visit provisions in the legislation. Just hours after Branstad signed the bill into law, Iowa's Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction on the waiting period part of it. In a statement, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood called the law "unconstitutional" and said the waiting period was not a medical need.

"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, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in the statement. “This ruling means that dozens of women today are able to access the care they need. In the two hours we saw patients between the governor signing this legislation into law and when the temporary injunction was ordered, havoc was wreaked on many patients’ lives."

She added, "We are hopeful that the Court will ultimately agree that...Iowa women, whose right to safe, legal abortion has been accepted law for 44 years, [should] continue to have the protection that has been guaranteed under the Iowa constitution."

Ben Hammes, a spokesman for Gov. Branstad, told Reuters on Friday that he was confident the injunction would be lifted "shortly."  Earlier in the day, he had said that Branstad's administration and the state legislature made "real progress" by enacting the law.

"We have made some real progress this year by getting legislation passed that institutes the first 20-week abortion ban, and also establishes a three-day waiting period for women who seek an abortion," he told Reuters. "The pro-life movement is making tremendous strides in changing the hearts and minds, to return to a culture that once again respects human life."

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion and reproductive rights policies across the U.S., a total of 17 states have a 20-week abortion ban, and 27 states require women to wait between getting counseling and obtaining the procedure.

Studies have found that most women don't change their mind about getting an abortion during the waiting period. And a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2009 only 1.3% of all abortions "performed in the United States were after 20 weeks' gestation." One could say that the fact that Iowa and so many other states are imposing these types of laws has nothing to do with factual information — and everything to do with controlling women.