Earlier this year, the body of a newborn baby, 24-48 hours old, was discovered in the trash at the local recycling center.
Sheriff Chuck Eddy, desperate to find the mother, subpoenaed the records of all pregnancies from the local Planned Parenthood. And as CBS News Correspondent Mika Brzezinski reports, that's when the tempest came to Storm Lake.
"We thought this couldn't be true," says Jill June, president of Planned Parenthood in Iowa. "Surely they don't want to invade the privacy of almost 1,000 women in this small rural town.
June says she's ready to do time to protect her clients from a chilling scenario.
"Imagine the knocks on the door, 'I see you were pregnant three months ago, where's the baby? If you had a miscarriage prove it. If you had an abortion prove it. Produce the child for police to see.'"
To district attorney Phil Havens, those records represent the last hope to solve this crime.
"We're at a dead end," says Havens. "I can't bring the baby back to life, but I do want to see justice for the baby and we do that through criminal prosecutions."
As far as the protection of people's privacy is concerned, Havens says, "privacy is not an absolute right."
"The law is that if the rights of society are greater, are weightier, then those rights should prevail."
And so this tiny town finds itself the flashpoint in a debate that could have national implications: the pursuit of justice versus a person's right to privacy.
June understands police officials' concerns, but says "the help they want from us is wrong."
"If they can do this to women in Storm Lake, Iowa, they can do this to any woman in America," she says.
Still for many here, the controversy is overshadowed by the crime.
"This baby had no contacts in this world other than with this mother, and if we can't talk to potential mothers then we can't investigate this crime," says Havens.
The crime will continue to haunt this community. The controversy is destined for the Iowa Supreme Court and could impact the privacy of patients far beyond the boarders of this small town.