Planned Parenthood Asks for Summary Judgement in Fetal Heartbeat Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Friday marks another milestone in Iowa’s fight over the fetal heartbeat bill. The bill aims to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually about six weeks into a woman's pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland argued for a summary judgement in their case against the state, that is that Iowa’s abortion law is clear, and a judge can make a ruling without having a trial.

“There's really only one fact that this court need find to decide this case, and it's an undisputed fact, and that is the fact that a six-week embryo is not viable outside the uterus. Under the law that is conclusive to establish the ban is an unconstitutional pre-viability ban” said Alice Clapman who is representing Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is filing their case under the Iowa constitution, which has already guaranteed a woman's right to abortion. They also argued that for decades, federal courts, under less strict standards, have struck down all pre-viability bans.

“It could not be more plain under this federal and state precedent that whatever authority the legislature may have to regulate abortion, it has no authority to prohibit abortion outright” said Clapman.

Meanwhile, the Thomas More Society, arguing for the state, feels that the facts are in dispute and deserve to be heard in court.

“The complaint claims that this is a ban on virtually all abortions at paragraph three, at five it says it will seriously jeopardize the health safety and welfare of women. These are all things we deny” said Martin Cannon, of the Thomas More Society.

Cannon also argued that fetal heartbeats are rarely detected at six weeks through abdominal ultrasound. They say vaginal ultrasounds are more likely to detect a heartbeat earlier, but abdominal ultrasounds are the state's benchmarks for detection.

“Dr. Altman's Affidavit indicates the earliest detection by abdominal ultrasound is seven weeks. We don’t prohibit an abortion of a child because she's at an age when her heartbeat might be detected, we only prohibit it when it is” he said.

Afterwards the ACLU, which is helping represent Planned Parenthood, says they feel confident.

“You know I think this case is one that has a clear right answer and we look forward to the judge’s decision after he's had a chance to review all the briefs and consider the arguments” said legal director Rita Bettis Austen.

The ACLU says they expect a decision from the judge in about 60 days. Regardless, it's expected this case will be appealed up to the Iowa Supreme Court.