DES MOINES — Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird says she believes a so-called “heartbeat” law to ban most abortions in Iowa is connotational. The Iowa Supreme Court recently deadlocked three-to-three after the governor asked the justices to overturn a lower court’s ruling on that 2018 law.
“We argued before the Supreme Court that they should lift that injunction and let that law go into effect,” Bird says. “The court ultimately did not make a decision in that case because it was tied and so by operation of law that allows the district court decision to stand. I was disappointed, but I will continue to work for the pro-life cause and I think the fight isn’t over yet.”
The 2018 legislation — referred to as a “hypothetical” law by one Iowa Supreme Court justice — would have banned most abortions after about the sixth week of a pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Pulse Life Advocates, the group previously known as Iowans for Life, is urging the legislature to convene as soon as possible and pass the same policy again. Bird isn’t making a recommendation about what the legislation should look like.
“I think we have many routes ahead of us that would protect the right to life here in Iowa,” Bird says. “I am supportive of a special session if that’s the route the legislature chooses to take.”
Bird, a Republican, has been Iowa’s attorney general for nearly six months. Bird says she’ll soon release her review of state-funded victims’ services programs.
“A number of issues came up that we’re working through for the audit to make sure that our office is being responsive when people have questions, that key information can be available to advocates to help them serve victims more quickly and that every part of the state is being served,” Bird says. “We found that some counties weren’t being served by the advocacy organizations that were being funded by our office to serve them.”
Earlier this spring, Bird’s office suspended the policy of having the state’s victim compensation fund cover the costs of the so-called morning after pill for sexual assault victims. Bird says the “Plan B” medication remains legal in Iowa and her audit of state services for victims will address whether state reimbursement for emergency contraception is appropriate.