A scheduled hearing today in response to a request for an injunction filed by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood against Gov. Kim Reynolds’ order that would’ve banned surgical abortions in the state instead resulted in an agreement between the two parties.
The lawsuit will remain open due to the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, but for now, the ACLU is content with Wednesday’s result.
“Planned Parenthood will resume seeing patients,” said ACLU communications director Veronica Fowler. “We no longer need a temporary injunction because women are once again able to access abortion services. However, we are going to keep the overall lawsuit open just because this is an ever-changing, very fluid situation. We want to protect women who want abortion services and we basically want to keep the lawsuit open to make sure there aren’t other attempts to restrict access.”
From the sounds of it, it will be business as usual in terms of abortions provided in the state of Iowa.
“Basically what happened is there was a clarification,” Fowler said. “Women who need essential abortion services can once again receive those. So yes, we’re glad that once again women who need abortion services can receive those.”
Fowler added all the attorneys involved looked at the information very carefully and determined the language of the proclamation could be interpreted to make sure women receive essential services.
There is confidence that women who need the services will receive them, Fowler added.
“We have confidence that the state will continue to do what it says it is going to do,” Fowler said. “Women who need essential abortion services will continue to receive them without interference from the state.”
The Iowa Standard asked Fowler if there was a definition for “essential” abortion services. The proclamation was supposedly going to prohibit surgical abortions in Iowa in an effort to preserve personal protective equipment.
“I don’t think there’s been any legal definition hammered out on essential,” Fowler said. “This will basically allow for women and their physicians to make a case-by-case determination for each patient. So, it’s up to the patient and the physician, which is the way it should be. Our position has long been this is not a decision for the government, this is a decision for individuals.”
As for the 30 scheduled abortions that were to happen this week in Iowa, it would seem the green light has been given.
“There might be individual circumstances with some change in transportation or scheduling,” Fowler said. “The person might be already set up with another provider in another state. But now there’s nothing standing in their way in Iowa to prevent them from accessing the services.”
The following joint statement was issued Wednesday by Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for ACLU of Iowa, and the Emma Goldman Clinic on the order from Johnson County court:
“Today, the Court entered an order by agreement of the parties that allows physicians to treat abortion the same as other procedures and allows them to make a case-by-case determination for each patient. Therefore, Planned Parenthood will resume seeing patients for in-clinic procedures, in compliance with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proclamation.
“We are all hoping for the quick end to this pandemic crisis and, in the meantime, we want to reassure patients that if they need to seek abortion or other reproductive health care services, they should contact Planned Parenthood to consult with a health care provider. We, like all health care providers, must be focused on our patients right now and today’s agreement allows us to do so.”