Iowa Supreme Court Ends Injunction, Allowing 6-Week Abortion Ban to Take Effect

AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib

The Iowa Supreme Court has weighed in on the state's law barring abortions after about six weeks of gestation, in a decision released on Friday on an injunction that has kept the law from taking effect. 

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via the Des Moines Register:

A divided Iowa Supreme Court decided 4-3 Friday to remove an injunction blocking enforcement of Iowa's so-called "fetal heartbeat" abortion law and to remove legal barriers for future abortion restrictions.

The ruling is the latest in a string of legal disputes over the status of abortion in Iowa. It comes after the court in 2022 held there is no "fundamental right" to abortion, and a 2023 case in which the court split 3-3 on what the correct legal standard should be for judging the constitutionality of abortion laws.

The law the court is allowing to take effect bans most abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected — about the sixth week of pregnancy....with exceptions for rape, incest, unsurvivable fetal abnormalities or to save the life of the mother.

The judge writing the majority decision, Justice Matthew McDermott, was joined by Justices Dana Oxley, David May, and Christopher McDonald. He explained that the court believed that, with the case heading back to the Polk County District Court, plaintiff Planned Parenthood of the Heartland "cannot show a likelihood of success on the merits" of its challenge to the law under the new legal standard." The injunction will be lifted.

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While the law is no longer barred from taking effect, it won't go into effect immediately: 

The injunction will remain in place until the district court formally receives the case, a process that will take at least three weeks, according to Attorney General Brenna Bird's office. In the meantime, an Iowa law predating the fetal heartbeat statute, allowing abortions until the 20th week of pregnancy, will continue to apply.

The decision continued:

"Stated simply, we can find no principled basis under our due process precedents to apply the heightened scrutiny of an undue burden test to abortion," McDermott wrote, adding that "every ground the state identifies is a legitimate interest for the legislature to pursue, and the restrictions on abortion in the fetal heartbeat statute are rationally related to advancing them."

Here was Planned Parenthood's predictable reaction to the restriction on abortion in the state:

Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said abortion is "essential, time-sensitive health care."

"Every person deserves to have the full range of sexual and reproductive health care they need, including abortion, no matter their ZIP code," she said. "Each patient is the expert on their own life, and we trust patients to make decisions about their health, families, and futures."

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Iowa's Republican Governor Kim Reynolds praised the court's decision, saying that "[t]here is no right more sacred than life, and nothing more worthy of our strongest defense than the innocent unborn."

She continued, "... Families are the cornerstone of society, and it’s what will keep the foundation of our state and country strong for generations to come.” 

The Iowa Supreme Court's ruling comes just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court (officially) released its decision on an Idaho law on abortion, Moyle v. United States, after an apparent tech mishap accidentally placed the document online:


READ MORE:

OOOPS. Supreme Court Posts Idaho Abortion Decision by Accident

The Skinny on SCOTUS - 6-27-24 Edition: The Sleepers

The Supreme Court Firebombs the Administrative State and Tells Congress to Get Off Its Butt and Work


This is a developing story, and RedState will provide updates as they become available.

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