Iowa Attorney General Refuses To Defend Abortion Heartbeat Law

Michael Foust | Contributor | Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Iowa Attorney General Refuses To Defend Abortion Heartbeat Law

Iowa’s Democratic attorney general said Tuesday he would not defend in court a new law that bans abortions if a heartbeat is present.

Attorney General Tom Miller’s office sent a letter to the state legislature saying Miller was disqualifying himself due to the “determination that 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.”

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday sued to overturn the new law, which requires abortion providers to conduct a test to determine if a heartbeat is present. If one is found, then abortion would be prohibited unless the pregnancy was the result of rape, incest or there is a “fetal abnormality that in the physician’s reasonable medical judgment is incompatible with life.”

“We commend Attorney General Tom Miller for standing up for a woman’s right to control her own body, and decide for herself whether and when to become a parent. Not only is this ban blatantly unconstitutional, it’s also extremely harmful to women," Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood's executive vice president, said in a statement.

Miller’s office recommended that the Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal firm, defend the law in court. The organization had agreed to do so.

To survive a Supreme Court challenge, at least five of the court’s nine judges would have to uphold the law. However, five of the judges – including swing vote Anthony Kennedy – are on record as supporting the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Supporters of the law are hoping that Kennedy would uphold the law or that a retirement would place a new justice on the court who is friendlier to the pro-life cause.


Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog,

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Publication date: May 16, 2018

Iowa Attorney General Refuses To Defend Abortion Heartbeat Law