Essential abortions to remain legal in Iowa through COVID-19 pandemic

In a court order Johnson County judges indicated that Gov. Kim Reynolds proclamation to suspend nonessential surgeries does not include abortions that providers deem medically necessary.

Gov.+Kim+Reynolds+speaks+during+the+Condition+of+the+State+address+at+the+Iowa+State+Capitol+on+Jan.+14.+

Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Jan. 14.

Rylee Wilson, Politics Reporter

Abortion services deemed essential will continue in Iowa through April 16, according to an order issued Wednesday in Johnson County District Court.

On March 26, Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a declaration suspending all nonessential or elective surgical procedures that require the use of personal protective equipment through April 16, which included abortion procedures.

In response, the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and the Emma Goldman clinic filed a joint lawsuit against Reynolds and other state officials, seeking a temporary injunction preventing the law from being enforced.

The court order, issued by 6th District Court Judge Andrew Chappell, stated that Reynolds’ proclamation did not intend to prevent all abortions, only those which could be delayed to a later date without undue harm on the individual.

RELATED: How would a proposed constitutional amendment affect abortion laws in Iowa?

If patients would be unable to access a legal abortion after the time the proclamation expires, their abortion could be considered an essential procedure.

“Respondents also acknowledge that when determining whether a surgical abortion can be delayed without undue risk it would be appropriate to consider, among other medical factors, whether the timing of the patient’s pregnancy would prevent the patient from obtaining a legal abortion after the Proclamation expires,” the order read.

The ACLU withdrew the request for a temporary injunction, though the lawsuit remains open in the case of future action barring abortion.

In a joint statement, the directors of the ACLU Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Emma Goldman Clinic said that Planned Parenthood and other clinics will resume seeing patients for in-clinic procedures. 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,” the statement read.

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