A district court judge has begun hearing the challenge of a new state requirement that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound and then wait 72 hours before the procedure is performed.
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit and got an injunction shortly after the law took effect in May. Jason Burkheiser Reynolds, the manager of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Des Moines, said that when the waiting period was briefly in force, women who had scheduled abortions on that Friday learned they had to wait and schedule another appointment.
“A lot of patients were very angered at that, on why somebody could decide this type of thing for them,” Reynolds said during testimony Monday. “Other patients were very upset because they had already made this decision.”
The medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland told the judge the waiting period will be particularly burdensome to rural women who will have to travel long distances for two separate appointments to terminate a pregnancy. An attorney for the state argued the new law doesn’t “directly interfere or prevent” a woman from getting an abortion.
This is not a jury trial. A judge is hearing the case and his ruling is likely to be challenged to a higher court. Iowa’s new law also prohibits nearly all abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy, but the lawsuit does not challenge that part of the law.