A nationally recognized gynecologist testified Tuesday at Polk County District Court. Dr. Dan Grossman of California is an expert witness in a trial that questions the constitutionality of new abortion restrictions.
Iowa’s new law requires a woman to have an ultrasound three days before an abortion. Grossman told the court, in some cases, he believes this requirement is "cruel" and "unacceptable."
For example, a pregnancy conceived through sexual assault can be emotionally disturbing to a woman. Health risks from conditions like hypertension or renal disease can also create an urgent need for an abortion.
Grossman estimates less than 10 percent of patients would be physically or psychologically harmed by the delay.
Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson emphasized this group comprises only a minority of patients. The state says the mandatory delay before an abortion is designed to give a woman more time to consider her decision.
Grossman also addressed questions about how these restrictions may unduly burden rural women. Compared to the average American woman, Grossman cited research showing that Iowa women face more geographic barriers to abortion.
He says forcing a woman to travel long distances for two appointments, one for the ultrasound and the second for the abortion, may cause her to wait more than a week before an abortion. Currently women undergo ultrasounds on the same day they terminate their pregnancies.
Though studies find abortion to be safer than childbirth, risks increase as a pregnancy continues. If a woman is more than 10 weeks pregnant, her only option is a surgical abortion. Early pregnancies can be ended with medications that induce miscarriage.
Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson pointed out that the new restrictions have been suspended until the case concludes, so Grossman’s testimony is only a prediction.
Whatever the district court’s ruling, an appeal is expected.