Judge to hear arguments from both sides on fetal heartbeat case

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Friday, both sides of the abortion debate are expected to pack a Des Moines courtroom for the lawsuit on Iowa's heartbeat law. The law bans abortions once doctors detect a heartbeat.

That's as early as six weeks, which can be before many women realize they are pregnant. There are exceptions for rape or incest.

With the ban on hold, current Iowa law says women can get an abortion before 20 weeks pregnant that’s a law former Governor Terry Branstad signed in 2017.

Friday’s hearing is over lawyers representing Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic applying for a summary judgment. That basically argues the law is so obviously unconstitutional, the judge should strike it down without a trial.

The heartbeat bill passed this year - banning abortions once a heartbeat is detected at about six weeks. That would be the strictest abortion ban in the country. A judge stopped it from taking effect after Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic sued.

They now claim an Iowa Supreme Court ruling striking down a waiting period on abortions shows this limit on abortions is also unconstitutional. Supporters of the law argue the heartbeat law is different and asking for a full trial.

"So that people can hear the facts, and the bottom line is that when an unborn child’s heart is beating, she's clearly alive,” said Maggie DeWitte with Iowans for LIFE. “She's a baby, and her life deserves protection under our law."

The judge is unlikely to issue a ruling on Friday, and regardless, both sides are likely to appeal this case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU did not want to comment on camera because it is a pending case. Planned Parenthood did send us a link to a statement on the lawsuit.