An Iowa judge announced Friday he will temporarily block a law that bans abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat. The move is part of a deal reached between lawyers for the state and abortion rights groups.
Following discussions with the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Emma Goldman Clinic, state attorneys and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds agreed to block the heartbeat law from taking effect on July 1.
The decision comes just weeks after Gov. Reynolds signed the bill into law in early May.
"I believe that all innocent life is precious and sacred, and as governor, I pledged to do everything in my power to protect it. That is what I am doing today," she said in a statement released after signing the bill last month.
ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis is applauding Judge Huppert's decision.
"From our side, there aren't really any questions that at six-week gestation an embryo is not viable, so it is hard to imagine how this (court fight) could take a very long time. But we will wait and see what their answer says ultimately then we'll have a better idea," said Bettis, who insists the law is nothing short of an all-out ban on abortion that violates of women's constitutional rights.
But pro-life lawmakers and activists refute Bettis' logic, insisting science is on their side.
"The science and technology have significantly advanced since 1973," KMA Radio News quoted pro-life state Rep. Shannon Lundgren as saying in early May. "It is time for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of life. It has taken decades for the science to catch up with what many have believed all along, that she's a baby."
Meanwhile, ironically, pro-life leaders are also defending the judge's ruling.
Martin Cannon of the Thomas More Society, which will represent Iowa and defend the heartbeat law, explained in a statement why attorneys consented to the temporary stay.
"After much discussion, considerable thought, and a lot of our own prayers, we have agreed … to place the heartbeat bill on hold until the challenge to it can be heard on its merits instead of in the shortened hearing that precedes a temporary injunction," Cannon said, noting that, "We'll get to a proper hearing sooner, and our prospects for ultimate success are better."
The Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders agreed.
"The heartbeat law will save babies' lives when enforced, and while it's delayed, those babies will tragically die. That's horrible," the group acknowledged.
Still, they reasoned the stay is ultimately in the best interest of the fight for the lives of the nation's unborn children.
"The process gave pro-life attorneys too little time to build their best case," they explained. "And we're not going to play into that game. Babies' lives are too precious to put up a rushed legal defense."
"Remember, we have to take the long view. This case was never going to be concluded this week," the statement continued. "And we're confident that when the process plays out, and when the American people have the chance to hear all the facts, they'll see that the child in the womb … she's a baby. And neither a just government nor a just society can tolerate the killing of innocent babies."