CORONAVIRUS

Groups sue Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds over abortion ruling

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature, Tuesd
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

A temporary ban on surgical abortions in Iowa as part of the state’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic is being challenged in court.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa have filed a lawsuit in Johnson County District Court against Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, the organizations announced Monday.

As part of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Reynolds issued a state public health disaster declaration that includes the temporary suspension of elective and non-essential medical procedures.

Reynolds said late last week that surgical abortions are considered non-essential.

In announcing their lawsuit, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU cited the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which issued a statement saying abortions should not be considered elective or non-essential.

“To the extent that hospital systems or ambulatory surgical facilities are categorizing procedures that can be delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic, abortion should not be categorized as such a procedure. Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care,” the medical groups said in a statement.

The lawsuit asks the courts to block the governor’s proclamation as it applies to abortions, the suing groups said.

“We are in a critical moment for our state when we must come together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, not politicize health care services that are constitutionally protected,” Erin Davison-Rippey, the executive director of Iowa’s chapter of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement. “Iowans are doing all they can to protect their families and communities during this pandemic and Planned Parenthood is focused on providing our patients with crucial services they need.”

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A spokesman for Reynolds said the governor suspended all elective medical procedures as part of her effort to protect Iowans during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As the governor has said over and over, Iowans are in this together,” Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett said in a statement. “We will be working in consultation with the (state) Attorney General’s Office to defend the actions she’s taken.”

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