Health

Save the 1 files to join fetal heartbeat lawsuit

Anti-abortion rights group against exceptions for rape, incest

Attorneys Caitlin Slessor and Sam Jones with the Emma Goldman Clinic chat Friday, June 1, 2018, before a hearing over Iowa’s ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion law at the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines. (Pool photo Michael Zamora/The Des Moines Register)
Attorneys Caitlin Slessor and Sam Jones with the Emma Goldman Clinic chat Friday, June 1, 2018, before a hearing over Iowa’s ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion law at the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines. (Pool photo Michael Zamora/The Des Moines Register)

A judge will decide in the coming weeks if an abortion-rights opposition group can join in on lawsuit over the state’s law that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The organization, Save the 1, argued before Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert on Friday that its effort to uphold the law “without the offending exceptions” for cases of rape, incest and fetal abnormality is relevant to the ongoing litigations.

“There’s a lot of overlap in the fact finding, which is why we should be a party in intervention of rights,” Save the 1 Founder and President Rebecca Kiessling said.

The Michigan-based not-for-profit is made up of individuals who were conceived in rape, incense or sex trafficking or became pregnant under those same circumstances. Kiessling, a lawyer, said she was conceived through rape.

Save the 1 filed the motion in June to intervene in the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City, which argued the law would violate a woman’s right to due process and violate a right that is protected by the Iowa Constitution.

The law bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks, making it one of the most restrictive bans in the nation.

Save the 1 is opposed to the exemptions the law allows because they violate equal protection for a certain group of individuals who are products of these exceptions, it says.

According the court filings, the group seeks to be included “because it has significant interest in the infringement of the equal protection imposed by the exceptions to the law that is not fully represented or protected by the existing parties.”

“We are looking now to have our rights recognized as a people group,” Kiessling said. “I think there’s a lot of myths that perpetuated where people think rape victims are better off (aborting pregnancies), and we want to show that’s not the case.”

Both sides of the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic as well as the Thomas More Society, which is representing the state, opposed the group’s motion to intervene.

In its filings resisting the intervention, the attorneys representing the state said Save the 1’s challenge is “entirely different” and “inconsistent and utterly contrary” from theirs.

In addition, the filings stated the Thomas More Society has a conflict of interest with the group, as the organization represented Save the 1 in filing its 501(c)3 status.

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic also argued Save the 1’s claims do not overlap in this case, and it’s intervention would “unduly delay” the litigation and “unnecessarily increase the expenditure of time and resources for all parties hereto as well as this court.”

Kiessling said the group would file its own lawsuit to strike down those exceptions to the law if the judge denies its motion to intervene.

The parties will file briefs arguing their positions by the end of next week. Huppert will issue a ruling after considering those filings.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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