Groups sue to block abortion ban; Iowa AG won't defend law (updated)

UPDATE: Have added the plaintiffs’ court filings at the end of this post.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and the Iowa City-based Emma Goldman Clinic filed suit today to block the new state ban on almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. I enclose below the full statement from the groups and will post the court filing once that document becomes available. The Polk County District Court is certain to put a stay on Senate File 359 (which would have taken effect July 1) while litigation is pending.

Attorney General Tom Miller “has disqualified himself from representing the state” in this case, Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson informed Iowa’s Executive Council today. Miller took that step after determining “he could not zealously assert the state’s position because of his core belief that the statute, if upheld, would undermine rights and protections for women.” The attorney general recommends that the Executive Council authorize the Thomas More Society to defend the law. That conservative group has offered its legal services at no cost to the state.

Miller’s decision is telling, because a few years ago, the Iowa Attorney General’s office defended the state administrative rule seeking to ban the use of telemedicine to provide medical abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics around the state. The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously found that policy created an “undue burden” for women seeking an abortion. You can read that decision in full here.

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Iowa legislative recap: Constitutional amendments

Iowa lawmakers went home for the year on May 5. In the coming weeks, Bleeding Heartland will catch up on some of the legislature’s significant work that attracted relatively attention.

Two proposed state constitutional amendments passed both chambers and could appear on the 2020 general election ballot, if the House and Senate approve them in the same form during either 2019 or 2020.

Three other constitutional amendments cleared one chamber in 2017–in one case unanimously–then stalled in the other chamber as lawmakers completed this two-year session. Those ideas may resurface next year. But since changes to the state constitution must be passed by two consecutively elected legislatures before landing on the general election ballot (the last step in the process), Iowa voters would not be able to ratify those proposals until November 2022 at the earliest.

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A misguided, irresponsible attempt to legalize discrimination

Andrew Duffelmeyer takes on Iowa Republicans’ “just plain wrong attempt to legalize discrimination against our LGBTQ friends” in the name of religious liberty. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Senate Local Government Committee is set to take up a bill aimed at legalizing discrimination against our LGBTQ friends and neighbors. Such an effort is certainly reprehensible and ought to be soundly defeated. But Senate Study Bill 3171 doesn’t do just that.

The architects of this so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” have created language so vague and broad that it would go far beyond allowing wedding venues, bakeries, or floral shops to refuse service to same-sex couples – the apparent “problem” this bill aims to address, based on subcommittee testimony. The bill would allow people to challenge any law or action of any state or local government on the basis that it infringes on their religious beliefs. The government would then have to satisfy a difficult legal standard to justify that infringement.

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More than a photo

Tyler Higgs is a local activist and concerned constituent in Clive. Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for candidates in Democratic primaries. Please read these guidelines before writing. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Anyone who has been to Representative David Young’s Facebook page knows what pandering looks like — drawings by second-graders, pictures of handshakes with people he votes to remove healthcare from, etc. His page is completely devoid of substance. What is he actually doing to address the concerns of his constituents? When will he put the People of Iowa ahead of his party’s far-right agenda?

That’s why I was so eager to see such a wide field of candidates challenge him this year. Unfortunately, a quick search of many of the candidates’ websites and Facebook pages shows just more of the same — photo ops of meet and greets, charming pictures of family, and no substance.

I’m an issues person. I care about the issues, not about who is advocating for them. I know that if I talk with any of these great candidates one-on-one, they will tell me what I want to hear. But I’ve had that experience with David Young as well. I don’t want to be pandered and lied to any more. I don’t want to be told something in private that a politician won’t state publicly.

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